Detroit and Denver Learn to Argue

October 1, 2019  • Institute Staff

This spring, the Better Arguments Project—a partnership among the Institute’s Citizenship and American Identity Program, Facing History and Ourselves, and the Allstate Corporation—piloted new public events in Detroit, Michigan, and Denver, Colorado. The project teaches Americans how to have better arguments and fewer divides, and joins forces with local organizations to talk to people on all sides of polarizing issues. In March, the project partnered with the Urban Consulate in Detroit to create a dialogue among 300 Detroiters about the tensions between longtime residents and newcomers to the city. Poet Marsha Music shared a few lines from “Just Say Hi,” a poem she wrote about Detroit: “We faced upheavals through the years, that caused Detroiters many tears. So now, again we rearrange—the lifeblood of this town is Change.” In Denver, Better Arguments partnered with Anythink Libraries in June to start a conversation among 100 Denver-area residents, including Colorado Governor Jared Polis, about the economic tensions associated with the region’s rapid tech-sector growth. The project asked participants at both events to take follow-up actions in their own communities, and it also awarded select participants with micro-grants to implement particularly creative action ideas. In 2020, the Citizenship and American Identity Program will launch new tool kits, seed funding, and training opportunities.