Our Political Polarization: Heartbreak and Healing

Communication-syncing

Why does politics feel crazy these days, and what can we do about it?

Last year, I facilitated a year-long conversation called Between Americans. The 24 participants—half red and half blue—had signed up hoping to achieve connection and understanding across the political schism. By the end of the year, most hadn’t achieved what they’d hoped for.

Certainly, I’d facilitate the conversation differently now. Other similar projects, both online and in person, seem to be achieving dialogue more successfully than we had. But the experiment succeeded in one regard: it revealed truths about our national disconnection that couldn’t be blamed on other people.

(For a more personal version of this essay, check out “Beneath partisan politics“, edited by Anne Focke. She wrangled a version of this essay that I’d all but given up on.)

Continue reading “Our Political Polarization: Heartbreak and Healing”

How Should I Vote?

Graph of Important Leadership Qualities over Time

How should we select political leaders in complex and changing times?

As election season ramps up again, I find myself wondering more than ever before: how should I research the candidates?

This year, while facilitating a conversation among people who voted for Clinton and Trump, I’ve noticed that, even among people who’ve committed time to discussing different political worldviews, life gets in the way. Most can’t find the time to research every issue, or to talk it through—and many feel guilty or inadequate as a result. But given the unavoidable demands of our jobs and families, I wonder if this guilt is, in fact, a clue.

What if the way we’ve come to frame our responsibility as citizens—to be knowledgeable, detail-oriented voters—is in fact unrealistic and unsustainable? Continue reading “How Should I Vote?”

The Hierarchy of Nobel-Prize-worthiness

Hierarchy of Conscience

Why is it so hard to find developer success stories in combating gentrification?

In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith explored the cultural milieu that produces our sense of right and wrong. In this work, which laid the groundwork for The Wealth of Nations, Smith notes that it’s human nature to seek praise and praise-worthiness. This basic tendency, he supposes, forms a social glue that keeps our societies ticking along.

He who coined “the invisible hand of the market” in fact seemed to view morality and markets as complementary, not competing, forces. How might this perspective apply to urban development? Continue reading “The Hierarchy of Nobel-Prize-worthiness”

Tim McDonald, Onion Flats—Philadelphia, PA

Onion Flats

Can a single design- and environmentally-conscious developer influence others?

‘I come at it from an architect’s perspective.’

Tim McDonald runs Onion Flats with his three partners. Trained as an architect, Tim co-founded the Philadelphia-based design-build firm alongside his brother. “As a developer,” he says, “every project I’ve ever done has been an opportunity to explore something. I’m a design-driven developer, and I come at it from an architect’s perspective.” Continue reading “Tim McDonald, Onion Flats—Philadelphia, PA”