Civil Leadership for Vibrant Communities

Are you an enrolled participant? Access the password-protected webpage here.

Note: Program registration is CLOSED

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Program Description:

Wisconsin communities struggle with issues ranging from affordable housing and broadband connectivity to public health crises and the impact of catastrophic storm events. Addressing these and other complex issues requires effective leadership at the neighborhood, organizational, and community levels. 

Leaders are more successful at addressing community issues and make better decisions when they foster civil conversations and welcome diverse perspectives. That’s particularly important now, when communities, non-profits, and businesses are making decisions in a historically unique time of transition.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension through the Green County Leaders program is partnering with Braver Angels and Leadership Wisconsin, Inc. to deliver an 8-part virtual program called Civil Leadership for Vibrant Communities.

The program seeks to provide local leaders with the skills needed to bridge divides and build stronger, more respectful, and valued communities so they can foster civil conversation, welcome more diverse perspectives, and make better decisions at the community level.

Program Overview

Note: Program registration is CLOSED

All sessions will be delivered virtually.

Civil Leadership in Today’s Divided World: An Introduction
September 29, 2021, 11 am – 12:30 pmThis first step on the journey explores the forces of polarization in our nation and how we can counteract them in our local communities. We will discuss the challenges of working together across differences and learn about proven strategies for communicating and working productively with people who see the world differently. Local leaders can show the way for their communities and the nation.

Skills for Bridging the Divide
October 20, 2021, 11 am – 1 pm Learn about the perspectives, feelings, and experiences of someone you care about who differs from you politically; have a sense of satisfaction about how you conveyed your own perspective, feelings, and experiences; and discover common ground, if it is there.

Growing Your Inner Bridge Builder
November 10, 2021, 9 am – 11 amMuch of today’s polarization is driven by how we talk with like-minded people about those we disagree with on the other side.  Community leaders can learn to expand spheres of empathy and regard a wider range of people as potential partners, including when talking to like-minded peers, creating more durable solutions benefiting a wider range of people.

Families and Politics Workshop
December 8, 2021, 11 am – 1:30 pmFamilies and Politics shows you how to talk about politics with your loved ones in a way that brings you closer together — not further apart. You’ll discuss why family political discussions can be uniquely challenging, and how to handle the unique roles that family members often play in those conversations.

Common Ground Workshops
You will choose one of the following times. You will also have the choice to participate or observe.

  • January 5, 2022, 10 am – 1 pm
  • January 5, 2022, 2 pm – 5 pm
  • January 19, 2022, 10 am – 1 pm
  • January 19, 2 pm – 5 pm

While the training workshops focus on skills for better interactions, Common Ground lets you put these into practice in real discussions around a single issue with those with opposing views, showing us how productive conversations about beliefs and policies can look. Participants will identify points of agreement that can lead to action on that issue.

One-to-One Conversations
February 2022 — Flexible scheduling
To continue your dialogues and go deeper on issues that are important to you and the life experiences that have formed your views, Braver Angels will match you with a member of a group with whom you may have differences for 1-to-1 conversations about these differences in experiences and beliefs, helping you develop ideas for community action.

Civil Leadership in Action
You will choose one of the following times.

  • March 2, 2022, 9 am — 10 am
  • April 13, 2022, 9 am – 10 am (optional)
  • April 22, 2022, 2 pm – 3 pm (optional)

You will be trained to run these sessions within your communities and organizations. Prior to the orientation event, you will complete a self-paced training comprising videos and written guides and have access to personal coaching. You will also be eligible for additional training to run online events.

Looking Forward and Graduation Celebration!
May 11, 2022
You will reflect on what they have learned during this shared journey and what next steps, as an individual and as a community member, you may wish to take.

Questions? Contact Victoria Solomon, Community Development Educator with Extension Green County at or (608) 328-9440.

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