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    Wednesday, May 29, 2024

    Braver Angels provides space for discussion in divisive times

    Dr. Christopher Clouet

    We all know somebody.

    Everyone has that crazy uncle or in-law, or your sister’s new friend, or your cousin’s girlfriend. The person we don’t agree with politically, but we have to spend Thanksgiving or a holiday party with, and deal with feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious or uncomfortable.

    Those feelings are natural, but there are tools and information available to help mitigate them.

    It’s a space that Braver Angels is hoping to fill.

    The national nonprofit’s Connecticut chapter is co-chaired by former New London Superintendent of Schools Chris Clouet, who is now the Assistant Professor of Education at Mitchell College.

    “We’ve been seeing a country divided and in some ways filled with anger and not talking anymore,” Clouet said.

    Braver Angels is hosting a virtual event at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 14, focusing on preserving family bonds while being true to your values and political beliefs in a free Families and Politics workshop. The event will provide strategies and skills for handling family political differences in a constructive way.

    Clouet said Fairfield University is sponsoring a similar version of the event designed for students returning home for Thanksgiving.

    The divisive state of politics currently has seeped into everyday life, putting many people on edge, and with the holidays around the corner, it’s as good a time as any to do something about it.

    “I’m a natural skeptic so I looked at this carefully,” said Clouet, who served in New London from 2004-09 and later held the same role in White Plains, N.Y. and Shelton. “This is creating a space for discussion but it’s organized. I wanted to, in some very modest way, contribute to that.”

    Braver Angels aims to try to understand the other side’s point of view, engage with those you may disagree with, and to look for common ground and ways to work together.

    Each local alliance of Braver Angels is led by a Red and a Blue co-chair in order to ensure balance in decision making, culture and operations. Clouet’s co-chair is Al Smith of Brookfield, president of the Western Connecticut Military Officers Association.

    “It’s a passion project for me,” said Clouet, who worked as special adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona when Cardona was Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education.

    The Connecticut chapter has sponsored two events already, one focusing on social media and another on critical race theory. Clouet has also been involved with some of the group’s national workshops.

    “Everyone has a voice and so everyone is expected to listen,” Clouet said. “It’s an exchange of ideas where people can hopefully find some common ground.”

    For more information visit braverangels.org and braverangelsct.org.

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