By Amanda Menas
With so much disunity across the United States, it can be difficult to find common ground. But one organization is taking steps to bring people together.
After working for 40 years to bring peace around the world, Paula Green co-founded Hands Across the Hills, bringing Liberals and Conservatives together to speak about their differences and similarities. The gatherings allowed the group of around 30 individuals to humanize each other.
Green and her organization won the first annual Melanie Greenberg Peacebuilding Award in 2018, at the annual Alliance for Peacebuilding conference, PeaceCon2018.
“The rising dehumanization perceptions of each other, and the development of good versus evil narratives was going to be very toxic for our country,” Green said at the conference.
“And it seemed to me that to any extent that I could create a program that would increase connectors and reduce dividers, seemed really worth doing.”
Hands Across the Hills brought conservatives from Kentucky and liberals from Massachusetts together in each of their states for two three-day intensive programs. In each of these communities they were able to share personal and political experiences. Green plans to take the organization to South Carolina in January 2019 to have conversations about race.
“One of the Kentucky women remarked ‘I was taught to hate and fear refugees and immigrants. I never met one. I will never think that way again.’,” Green said.
Green highlighted five key points for peacebuilding on the ground in the USA:
#1 Finding a community partner
#2 Hosting a multi-day residential format
#3 Preparing and Engaging
#4 Challenging tribalism
#5 Moving into action
“It just seems to be incumbent upon all of us that we put our hands into this US peacebuilding now, and use our wisdom and our talents to make the changes that we need here in our own country,” Green said.