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Twenty-eight Uniters Selected to Work Across Divides to Prevent Targeted Violence in Southeast Wisconsin

Civic participation initiative aiming to address risk factors for premeditated violence kicks off in Kenosha on June 1, 2024

[Kenosha, WI] – May 30, 2024 – Twenty-eight community members in southeast Wisconsin have been selected to work across divides as part of Uniting to Prevent Targeted Violence in Southeast Wisconsin (UPTV), a 15-month, non-partisan civic participation program led by Urban Rural Action that aims to build new relationships across differences, raise community members' awareness of targeted violence, and take action to address causes of targeted violence.  Targeted violence – physical violence against people because of their group identity or affiliation or other forms of premeditated violence, such as mass casualty attacks – is on the rise in the U.S. Wisconsin itself has experienced multiple incidents and threats in the last several years, making prevention a key interest of community members.

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The 28 Uniters live and/or work in Kenosha, Milwaukee, Racine, Walworth, and Waukesha counties. They will be gathering at the Civil War Museum in Kenosha on June 1 to kick off the program. The eclectic group includes active members of different faith communities, veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, mental and behavioral health professionals, a crime victim advocate, and a conflict management professional. 

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The Uniters embody diversity of age, race, religion, politics, and sexual orientation. They range in age from 18-29 to over 65. Half of the Uniters identify as Black, Hispanic, South Asian, or multi-racial. Uniters’ religious identities include Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, and Sikh. The program organizers met their goal of ensuring that at least 25% of the cohort has political views that are right of center and at least 25% has political views that are left of center.

“I’m inspired by these 28 change-makers who have committed to work across differences to prevent targeted violence,” said Joseph Bubman, UPTV Wisconsin Program Co-Director. “By taking action in their backyards on a societal issue of paramount importance, the Wisconsin Uniters will model what our country requires from all of us.”

The 28 Uniters have been assigned to four project teams, each of which will work with a local organization to design and implement a project that reduces risks of targeted violence in their county. The community partners are Near West Side Partners, Inc (Milwaukee County); Kenosha Human Development Services, Inc (Kenosha and Racine Counties); New Beginnings Crisis Center (Walworth County); and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Southeast Wisconsin (Waukesha). The county projects will address risk factors for targeted violence identified by the group and advance a goal of the partner organization. A budget of $10,000 will support each project.

“Ensuring a peaceful community where my children can grow and thrive without fear is my utmost priority," said Maryann Zimmerman, Walworth County Program Coordinator for UPTV. “I believe that fostering understanding and empathy among individuals is key to preventing violence. By working together, we can create a community where everyone feels valued, respected, and secure.”

​The two-step application process involved a written questionnaire about prospective participants’ interest in the program and a 30-minute interview with two program organizers. This process enabled the UPTV team to select the 28 Uniters from a pool of more than 45 candidates.

In addition to implementing county projects, the Uniters and community partners will work with county officials to form, support, and strengthen Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management Teams to detect and act on warning signs of targeted violence. Through a partnership with Common Agency, the program will also establish Neighborhood Networks in Kenosha, Milwaukee, and Racine to build relationships and address local challenges.

“We are motivated to reduce violence in the community," said Chris Krasovich, Pewaukee-based Communications and Program Officer for UPTV. “This program will achieve meaningful impact because of its focus on strengthening social cohesion across ideological differences and its work to increase awareness of risk factors that contribute to targeted violence.”

The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships under the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Grant Program for Fiscal Year 2023. TVTP works to help prevent incidents of domestic violent extremism, as well as to bolster efforts to counter online radicalization and mobilization to violence.  

Media contact: Chris Krasovich, UPTV Wisconsin Communications and Program Officer: chris@uraction.org

Kansas City to Host First-Ever National Bridge-Building Event

American Public Square will host the 2023 Bridge-Building Innovation Showcase at the Unity Temple on the Plaza

Kansas City, MO] – October 5, 2023 – Six teams of Americans from across the country will be recognized in Kansas City on October 14, 2023 for volunteering their time to work across political, racial, religious, generational, and other differences to solve local problems. The event, known as the Bridge-Building Innovation Showcase, will be held at the Unity Temple on the Plaza in Kansas City at 5 pm.

 

American Public Square, a Kansas-City based community organization working to improve the tone and quality of public discourse, is hosting the event in partnership with national bridge-building organizations CoGenerate, Common Agency, Ideos Institute, Urban Rural Action and 92NY's Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact.​

 

The six teams of community members were selected for the Showcase following a competitive process that included a written application and an interview with two judges who explored the teams' efforts to build relationships across differences and engage their broader communities in preventing targeted violence.

 

“The Showcase will be an extraordinary, first-of-its-kind opportunity to celebrate Americans who are navigating political, racial, and other differences to effect meaningful change in their own communities," said Joseph Bubman, Executive Director of Urban Rural Action. “We're very grateful to the American Public Square for partnering with UR Action to make this happen in wonderful Kansas City."

 

The six teams selected for the Showcase hail from different types of communities and are tackling a range of challenges:

  • Kansans are helping Spanish-speaking community members in Emporia access information about health programs and services.

  • Kentuckians are facilitating climate conversations in Lexington.

  • Louisianans are advancing bipartisan criminal justice reform.

  • Michiganders are helping youth learn how to build houses in Muskegon County.

  • Oregonians are bringing financial literacy courses to rural Tillamook County.

  • Pennsylvanians are expanding access to mental and behavioral health services to Franklin County residents who have demonstrated risk factors for targeted violence.​

The Showcase will feature an informal cocktail period, presentations from all six teams, and discussion among attendees. There is no cost to attend, and community members can register on Eventbrite.

Media contact: Robin Smith, APS Marketing & Communication, robin@americanpublicsquare.org

Franklin County Residents Honored for Building Bridges Across Differences

A team of 8 residents working to address risk factors for targeted violence will be featured at the national Bridge-Building Innovation Showcase in October 

[Franklin County, PA] – August 31, 2023 – A team of eight Pennsylvanians who are working across differences to address risk factors for targeted violence in Franklin County has been selected to showcase its efforts at the 2023 Bridge-Building Innovation Showcase.

The team came together in early 2023 as part of Urban Rural Action’s Uniting to Prevent Targeted Violence in South-Central Pennsylvania program. The non-partisan initiative brings together 28 Pennsylvanians, known as Uniters, in Adams, Dauphin, Franklin, and York Counties to work across divides to prevent targeted violence, intentional physical violence against people because of their real or perceived group identity.  

The Franklin County team has partnered with CONTACT Helpline to expand residents’ awareness of resources currently available to meet basic life needs. Initially, the team’s efforts will focus on housing and housing-related needs and the programs currently present in the county that can meet those needs. The team believes that by engaging potential volunteers across the demographic spectrum, they will make targeted violence less likely in Franklin County while simultaneously increasing community connectedness.
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“We began with the shared conviction that the underlying problem of targeted violence occurs when people lose sight of others’ humanity," said Allison Stephens, who lives in Mercersburg. “This is particularly elevated by current politics and ideology, which increase tribal ways of viewing each other."

 

​The Franklin County group is one of six teams of Americans from across the country who are being recognized for volunteering their time to work across political, racial, religious, generational, and other differences to solve local problems.

The Showcase will consist of a live event at the Unity Temple on the Plaza in Kansas City on October 14, 2023 and a virtual webinar on October 19, 2023.

The Franklin County team was selected for the Showcase following a competitive process that included a written application and an interview with two judges who explored the team’s efforts to build relationships across differences and engage the broader community in preventing targeted violence.

“During the interview, we were allowed to verbalize our understanding of each others' differences while conveying our shared sense of purpose around our project," said Janon “Jay" Gray, who lives in Chambersburg.

The Uniting to Prevent Targeted Violence program is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships under the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Grant Program for Fiscal Year 2022. TVTP works to help prevent incidents of domestic violent extremism, as well as to bolster efforts to counter online radicalization and mobilization to violence. 


Media contact: Joe Bubman, UPTV Co-Director, UR Action, joe@uraction.org

Urban Rural Action wins New Pluralists Grant to Launch New Program in Southern Oregon

Non-partisan, grassroots civic engagement initiative will promote collaboration to address local economic challenges in Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, and Klamath counties

[Roseburg, MD] – August 2, 2023 – Urban Rural Action announced on Thursday the launch of the Uniting for Action on the Economy in Southern Oregon program, a non-partisan grassroots civic engagement initiative funded by New Pluralists that will promote collaboration to address economic challenges in Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, and Klamath counties.

Urban Rural Action was selected as one of 32 grantees for the New Pluralists “Healing Starts Here” initiative. New Pluralists supports community-based efforts that promote belonging, embrace differences, and counteract divisive forces.

UR Action’s new program in southern Oregon builds on the recently completed Uniting for Action on the Oregon Economy initiative, in which community members in Benton County, Portland Metro, and Tillamook County worked with local partners to address financial literacy gaps, support aspiring entrepreneurs, and help vulnerable and homeless individuals find productive employment. 

“Over the course of the past eight months, I've witnessed first-hand how the practice of collaboration skills and the application of the UR Action approach is making meaningful change in individual participants and on critical issues facing Oregon communities,” said Ted Volchok, who directed this past year’s program and will advise on the upcoming one. “I am eager to apply the learning gained to the next iteration of the program in southern Oregon.” 

The next iteration will bring together 28 community members in southern Oregon to build relationships and collaborate on economic issues across political, racial, religious, generational, geographic, and other differences. The cohort of “Oregon Uniters” will gather regularly in person to dialogue, analyze economic challenges, and implement a project with local organizations. 

“Uniting for Action gives me such hope,” said Program Co-Director Jenny Seward, a Roseburg native. “To see what can be accomplished when people come together across differences in their own communities has been inspiring, and represents a strong foundation to build on and expand our work.”

UR Action will be hiring four part-time County Coordinators, one in each of Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, and Klamath counties. Each County Coordinator will help a team of “Uniters” in their community and a local organization to co-design and implement a project that addresses a local economic challenge and advances a goal of the partner. A project budget will support each team's implementation.

 

The program will run from February until November 2024. A two-step application process for residents of the four counties to participate as “Uniters” will open up in September 2023.

“This work provides a path for people who want to develop the tools to be able to communicate effectively and effect change in the form of a collective project,” said Maree Beers, who will co-direct the program with Seward and who served as Community Partner Lead via Financial Beginnings in UR Action’s recently-completed program. “Our communities and our country are so much stronger when we unite as Oregonians and Americans to tackle shared challenges. I’m very excited for what we’ll accomplish together!”

 

Media Contact: Jenny Seward, Program Co-Director, UR Action, jenny@uraction.org

Twenty-eight Uniters Selected to Work Across Divides to Prevent Targeted Violence in South-Central Pennsylvania

Non-partisan, grassroots initiative kicks off in Gettysburg on February 18, 2023

[Gettysburg, PA] – February 10, 2023 – Twenty-eight community members in south-central Pennsylvania have been selected to work across divides as part of Uniting to Prevent Targeted Violence in South-Central Pennsylvania (UPTV), an 18-month, non-partisan program led by Urban Rural Action that kicks off in Gettysburg on Feb. 18.

The 28 Uniters live and/or work in Adams, Dauphin, Franklin, and York counties. The eclectic group includes 13 active members of a faith community, six veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, six people with experience working in the criminal legal system, four formerly incarcerated individuals, three mental or behavioral health professionals, and a mayor. 
 

“Targeted violence is a serious and growing problem in our country that must be addressed by communities themselves from the ground up,” said Kira Hamman, UPTV Co-Director. “UPTV and the Uniters provide communities in south-central Pennsylvania with the support and resources they need to develop local prevention networks and reduce the risks of targeted violence in this area.”

 

The Uniters cohort features ideological, racial, educational, and generational diversity: 

  • 11 participants say their political views are left of center; nine are right of center; and eight fall “squarely in the middle;” 

  • Nearly half of the Uniters identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian-American, or multi-racial;

  • ​The group is roughly split between people who have four-year college degrees and those who do not; and

  • Nearly a third of the group is under 45.​
     

“I’m inspired by these 28 change-makers who have committed to work across their ideological, racial, and generational differences to prevent targeted violence,” said Joseph Bubman, UPTV Co-Director. “By taking action in their backyards on an issue of paramount importance, these Uniters will be modeling what our country requires from all of us.”

The 28 Uniters have been assigned to four project teams, each of which will work with a community organization to design and implement a project that reduces risks of targeted violence in their county: CONTACT Helpline (Franklin), Just for Today Recovery & Veteran’s Support Services (Dauphin), Mediation Services of Adams County (Adams), and Suicide Prevention of York (York). A budget of $10,000 will support each project.

“A community’s safety depends on the level of its community members’ proactivity,” said Kierstan Belle, UPTV Team Advisor in Adams County. “I can’t wait to see how the Uniters work together with their community partners to prevent targeted violence in south-central Pennsylvania.”

The two-step application process involved a written questionnaire about prospective participants’ interest in the program and a 30-minute interview with two program organizers.

UPTV is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships under the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Grant Program for Fiscal Year 2022. TVTP works to help prevent incidents of domestic violent extremism, as well as to bolster efforts to counter online radicalization and mobilization to violence.  

Media Contact: Logan Grubb, UPTV Chief of Staff, UR Action, logan@uraction.org

Uniting for Entrepreneurship in Maryland Program to Launch in Easton on March 18, 2023

Non-partisan, grassroots initiative aims to advance entrepreneurship in Baltimore Metro, Prince George's County, and Talbot County

[Easton, MD] – January 5, 2023 – Three Maryland community organizations are teaming up with the national non-profit Urban Rural Action (UR Action) to launch ​Uniting for Entrepreneurship in Maryland (U4EM), a nine-month program in which a select cohort of Marylanders will build new relationships across differences, implement projects that support local businesses and entrepreneurs, and raise awareness of the positive economic contributions of immigrants. The participating organizations are the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center (ChesMRC), the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), and the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland (PBRC).

“LEDC is delighted to partner with Urban Rural Action as part of the Uniting for Entrepreneurship in Maryland program," said Omar A. Velasco, Chief of Small Business Services and Lending at LEDC. “By advancing entrepreneurship among immigrants and non-immigrants, we believe this program resembles our mission to drive the economic and social advancement of underserved communities by equipping them with the skills and tools to achieve financial independence and become leaders in their communities.” ​

UR Action is administering a public application process to form a cohort of 21 Maryland Uniters across three hubs: Baltimore Metro (County and City), Prince George's County, and Talbot County. The cohort will feature differences in national origin, ideological views, racial identities, and age ranges.
 

“I’m inspired by these 28 change-makers who have committed to work across their ideological, racial, and generational differences to prevent targeted violence,” said Joseph Bubman, UPTV Co-Director. “By taking action in their backyards on an issue of paramount importance, these Uniters will be modeling what our country requires from all of us.”

The 28 Uniters have been assigned to four project teams, each of which will work with a community organization to design and implement a project that reduces risks of targeted violence in their county: CONTACT Helpline (Franklin), Just for Today Recovery & Veteran’s Support Services (Dauphin), Mediation Services of Adams County (Adams), and Suicide Prevention of York (York). A budget of $10,000 will support each project.

“A community’s safety depends on the level of its community members’ proactivity,” said Kierstan Belle, UPTV Team Advisor in Adams County. “I can’t wait to see how the Uniters work together with their community partners to prevent targeted violence in south-central Pennsylvania.”

The two-step application process involved a written questionnaire about prospective participants’ interest in the program and a 30-minute interview with two program organizers.

UPTV is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships under the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Grant Program for Fiscal Year 2022. TVTP works to help prevent incidents of domestic violent extremism, as well as to bolster efforts to counter online radicalization and mobilization to violence.  

Media Contact: Logan Grubb, UPTV Chief of Staff, UR Action, logan@uraction.org

Uniting to Prevent Targeted Violence Program to Launch in Gettysburg on February 18, 2023

Non-partisan, grassroots initiative aims to build a targeted violence prevention framework in south-central Pennsylvania

[Gettysburg, PA] – November 15, 2022 – Four community organizations in south-central Pennsylvania are teaming up with the national non-profit Urban Rural Action to launch ​Uniting to Prevent Targeted Violence, an 18-month program to build new relationships across divides, implement projects that reduce risks of targeted violence, and raise community members' awareness of targeted violence. The participating organizations are CONTACT Helpline, Just for Today Recovery & Veteran’s Support Services, Mediation Services of Adams County, and Suicide Prevention of York.

UR Action defines targeted violence as intentional physical violence against a pre-identified target based on their perceived identity or affiliation, whereby the act is intended to intimidate or coerce or generate publicity about the perpetrator's grievance. Examples include hate-motivated mass killings and premeditated violence against political adversaries.
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“We are excited to advance locally-led efforts that address risk factors for radicalization to violence," said Logan Grubb, the Hummelstown-based chief of staff for United to Prevent Targeted Violence. “This program will achieve meaningful impact due to UR Action’s trusting local relationships, credibility across the ideological spectrum, and application of learning from years of strengthening community resilience."

Urban Rural Action is administering a public application process to form a cohort of 28 Pennsylvania Uniters  in four south-central PA counties: Adams, Dauphin, Franklin, and York. The cohort will intentionally include people with different political views, racial identities, and age ranges.

“Working together to prevent targeted violence takes what I have devoted my adult life to, using mediation to help people learn to be active listeners, to the next level," said Patti Robinson of Mediation Services of Adams County. “We can use the skills of the community to heal deep pain that is turned against one another." 

The Uniters in each county will design and implement a targeted violence prevention project with one of the four community partners. The projects will address risk factors for targeted violence identified by the group, and advance a goal of the partner organization. A budget of $10,000 will support each project.

 

“I want to help make it O.K. to talk about mental health without stigma and violence," said Cindy Richard, Founder and President of Suicide Prevention of York. “Rather than our community defining a person by their mental health, we need to promote prevention through education, intervention services, and postvention services for survivors."

​UPTV will kick off in Gettysburg on February 18, 2023 and run through August 2024. During each phase, the cohort of Uniters will gather in person for relationship-building, dialogue, analysis of targeted violence, and the implementation of their targeted violence prevention project.

“We are very divided in Pennsylvania and across our country," said Chad Collie, the Adams County Program Coordinator for UPTV. “It's up to us whether or not we stay that way. This program is an opportunity for us to overcome some of our divisions and help address a problem that impacts everyone."

The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships under the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Grant Program for Fiscal Year 2022. TVTP works to help prevent incidents of domestic violent extremism, as well as to bolster efforts to counter online radicalization and mobilization to violence.  

​Interested community members can apply by January 1, 2023 through a two-step process on the UR Action website.

 

Media Contact: Logan Grubb, UPTV Chief of Staff, UR Action, logan@uraction.org

Uniting for Action on the Oregon Economy to Launch in November

Non-partisan, grassroots initiative aims to build relationships across divides and tackle economic challenges in northwest Oregon

[Portland, OR] – October 11, 2022 – Civic and business organizations are teaming up this fall to launch Uniting for Action on the Oregon Economy, a seven-month program to build new community relationships across divides and collaboratively address economic challenges in northwest Oregon. The program will be implemented collectively by Community Outreach, Inc, Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce, Financial Beginnings Oregon, and the national non-profit Urban Rural Action. 

​Uniting for Action on the Oregon Economy aims to achieve several goals: build new connections among Oregonians across divides, strengthen individual collaboration skills, increase understanding of economic issues in Oregon, and take action to address those challenges. 

"We're excited to bring together Oregonians to do the hard but necessary work of engaging across our differences to build relationships and solve problems," said Ted Volchok, UR Action’s Oregon Program Director. “We're thrilled to implement this program with our local partners."

Interested Oregonians must apply to participate by October 28 by completing an application on UR Action’s website. Organizers expect to select into the cohort 20-30 Oregonians who live in Benton, Multnomah, Washington, and Tillamook counties.

“Community Outreach Inc. is eager to come together with rural and urban stakeholders to improve economic opportunity for our clients and other individuals and families who are experiencing houselessness,” said Emily Barton, Development Director at Community Outreach. “Uniting for Action on the Oregon Economy is a unique opportunity to build trust and community and strengthen the networks that serve us all.”

The broader cohort will consist of three Oregon Uniters hubs, geographic-based teams that will partner with a local organization to design and implement an economic project. The Benton County hub will work with Community Outreach, Inc. to address economic issues and houselessness. Participants in Multnomah and Washington Counties will work with the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce (BACC) to support entrepreneurship. Tillamook County participants will work with Financial Beginnings to enhance the financial capacity of youth and adults.

“The Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to be working with UR Action on Uniting for Action on the Oregon Economy,” said Alicia Bermes, CEO of BACC. “BACC has a long history of working with and supporting businesses in and around Beaverton. This is a great chance to collaborate beyond our borders and help address economic challenges in Oregon.”

Starting with a kick off-workshop on November 19, 2022 in Portland, participants will practice skills that help them understand the views of Oregonians different from themselves.  Over the following seven months, they will gather three more times in person (in Tillamook, Beaverton, and Corvallis) and several times online to analyze and address economic challenges. 

"Financial Beginnings Oregon is thrilled to be partnering with UR Action to empower Oregonians to take control of their financial futures,” said Alex Manoogian, Program Director at Financial Beginnings Oregon. “Financial empowerment is critical to building the resilience of communities, families, and individuals. By partnering with UR Action, we can bring together a diversity of experiences and perspectives that can strengthen everyone's journey to managing their finances in pursuit of their dreams." 

In-person gatherings will include a workshop, a walking tour, visits with community leaders, shared meals, and activities to enable all participants to gain a deeper understanding of the community they are visiting and the challenges they face.


Media Contact: Ted Volchok, Oregon Program Lead UR Action, ted@uraction.org

Community Outreach, Inc has helped people help themselves lead healthy and productive lives since 1971.

Financial Beginnings is a statewide nonprofit that provides accessible and unbiased financial education programming to youth and adults in schools and community-based organizations.

Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce promotes a vibrant community and business environment by leading business development and retention, advocating sound public policy and providing strategic member services.

​UR Action is a national grassroots movement that brings Americans together across divides to tackle our country’s most urgent challenges.

Uniting for Democracy in the Northland Kicks Off in Duluth on April 30

Non-partisan, grassroots initiative aims to build relationships across divides and tackle democracy challenges in northeast Minnesota

[Duluth, MN] – March 28, 2022 – Civic and business organizations are teaming up to launch the Uniting for Democracy in the Northland program in Duluth on April 30 to build new community relationships across divides and tackle democracy challenges in northeast Minnesota. The program will be implemented by the local non-profit consulting firm Northspan and national non-profits Urban Rural Action and Lead for America.

​U4D in the Northland aims to achieve several goals: build new connections among northeast Minnesotans across geographic, political, racial, and generational divides, strengthen individual collaboration skills, and tackle local democracy challenges such as low levels of civic engagement, toxic polarization, misinformation, and news echo chambers. 

This local effort will be led by Amber Lewis, a Fellow with Lead for Minnesota (a state affiliate of the national Lead for America) who is originally from the Iron Range and is serving Northspan for two years. 

“In my role serving Northspan, I am focused on fostering a more welcoming community in northeast Minnesota,” said Lewis. “I am excited for the Uniting for Democracy program because I see the work of addressing democracy-related challenges on a local level as one way that we can begin to create spaces of belonging and inclusion in our region amid the differences that we have, be they cultural, racial, ideological, generational, or a myriad of others.”

Interested Minnesotans must apply to participate by April 8  by completing a short expression of interest on Urban Rural Action’s website. Organizers expect as many as 25 participants with wide-ranging views who live in a variety of communities across northeast Minnesota.

Following the Duluth workshop, participants will convene on Zoom for structured discussion, small group brainstorming, and action planning. The action will come in the form of small-scale democracy projects designed by participants such as cross-ideological dialogues, news literacy trainings, and civic education sessions. The interventions will be supported by Northspan and implemented through May 2023. ​

“At a local and regional level we are best equipped to understand and address the challenges we see in the Northland and by working together on common goals we can be a catalyst to strengthen the foundations of our communities,” Lewis said.

Northeast Minnesota participants will also sync up regularly on Zoom with other groups nationwide, including one in Wadena, MN, that are participating in the national Uniting for Democracy program. The purpose of those gatherings is to build new relationships and share challenges and successes in implementing interventions to strengthen democracy.

"We're excited to bring together Minnesotans to do the hard but necessary work of engaging across our differences to build relationships and solve problems to strengthen our democracy," said Joseph Bubman, Executive Director of Urban Rural Action. “We're thrilled to implement this program with Northspan and Lead for America.

Media Contact: Amber Lewis, Lead for Minnesota Fellow serving Northspan, alewis@northspan.org

Northspan specializes in creative thinking, enterprising strategies, and systematic approaches to help businesses, communities, regions, and organizations prosper in a global economy.

​Urban Rural Action brings Americans together across divides to tackle our country’s most urgent challenges.

Lead for America is committed to building a leadership force of our nation’s most outstanding people to serve in the communities they call home, and to stitch our country back together through shared commitment to place and love of neighbor.

Uniting for Public Health in New Mexico Kicks Off on May 17

Non-partisan, grassroots initiative aims to build relationships across divides and tackle public health challenges across the state

[Albuquerque, NM] – March 28, 2022 – The New Mexico Department of Health is teaming up with national civic organizations to launch the Uniting for Public Health in New Mexico program to bring together residents statewide to build relationships, strengthen collaboration skills, explore different perspectives on local issues, and work together to improve public health. NMDOH will implement the program with national non-profits Urban Rural Action and Lead for America. 

​UPH aims to achieve several goals: build new connections among New Mexicans across geographic, political, racial, and generational divides, strengthen individual collaboration skills, and tackle public health challenges such as low levels of trust. 

This local effort will be led by Emily Guerra, a Public Health Equity Corps Fellow (a collaboration with Lead for America and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials) who is serving with the NMDOH for two years.​

 

“The past two years have shown us that public health has the complex job of protecting people’s health while ensuring equity and maintaining the community’s trust in government, and sometimes communication takes a backseat to other priorities," said Guerra. “We have a lot of great people doing this work across the state, but oftentimes the work ends up being siloed. The opportunity to work with Urban Rural Action and Lead for America on this venture will hopefully break down the silos and connect us across differences and divisions.”

Interested New Mexicans must apply to participate by completing a short expression of interest by April 15 on Urban Rural Action’s website. Organizers are targeting New Mexicans who live in a variety of communities across the state and are eager to collaborate across differences on public health.

Participants will convene regularly on Zoom for structured discussion, small group brainstorming, and action planning. The action will come in the form of small-scale projects designed by participants such as cross-ideological dialogues on public health and communication campaigns that aim to increase trust community trust in public health agencies.  

New Mexico participants will also sync up regularly on Zoom with other groups nationwide participating in the national Uniting for Democracy program. The purpose of those gatherings is to build new relationships and share challenges and successes in implementing interventions to strengthen public health and democracy.

"We're excited to bring together New Mexicans to do the hard but necessary work of engaging across our differences to build relationships and solve problems to strengthen our democracy," said Joseph Bubman, Executive Director of Urban Rural Action. “We're thrilled to implement this program with NMDOH and Lead for America."

Media Contact: Emily Guerra, Public Health Equity Corps Fellow at NMDOH, emily.guerra@state.nm.us

New Mexico Department of Health promotes, preserves, and protects the health of New Mexicans.

​Urban Rural Action brings Americans together across divides to tackle our country’s most urgent challenges.

Lead for America is committed to building a leadership force of our nation’s most outstanding people to serve in the communities they call home, and to stitch our country back together through shared commitment to place and love of neighbor.

​Uniting for Action on the Oregon Economy workshop to be held in
Corvallis on November 12

Non-partisan, grassroots initiative aims to build relationships across divides and tackle economic challenges across the state

[Corvallis, OR] – October 6, 2021 – Civic and business organizations are teaming up to host a Uniting for Action on the Oregon Economy workshop on Nov 12 in Corvallis to build new community relationships across divides and explore possible solutions to economic challenges. The program will be implemented collectively by the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce, NeighborImpact, the American Federation of Teachers - Oregon, and national non-profit Urban Rural Action.

​Uniting for Action on the Oregon Economy aims to achieve several goals: build new connections among Oregonians across geographic, political, racial, and generational divides, strengthen individual collaboration skills, and explore local and state economic challenges. 

 

“Any business interested in growing in today’s economy has to be able to communicate to a wide-expanse of customers/clients, with often-polarizing opinions of the workspace," said Simon Date, President and CEO of the Corvallis Chamber. “This workshop teaches you how to have those discussions and bridge those divides.”

Interested Oregonians must apply to participate by completing a short expression of interest on Urban Rural Action’s website. Organizers expect to admit to the workshop 20-30 Oregonians with wide-ranging views who live in a variety of communities across the state. They are targeting community members eager to collaborate across differences to help alleviate economic hardship and related social, environmental, and political challenges in Oregon. 

​“In recent years, the national dialogue on matters of public concern has been reduced to little more than a series of increasingly divisive and counterproductive tweets, posts, and soundbites," said Roger DeHoog, a NeighborImpact board member, judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals, and longtime Deschutes County resident. “By participating in this workshop, I hope to meet others eager to engage rather than attack those with different perspectives and provide a local example of community members seeking out productive conversation rather than pointless argument.”

Program organizers hope that this workshop will serve as a launching point for a larger collaboration in 2022 that involves implementing small projects across Oregon to address issues such as small business recovery, workforce development, community economic growth, entrepreneurship, renewable energy, and broadband access.

"We're excited to bring together Oregonians to do the hard but necessary work of engaging across our differences to build relationships and solve problems," said Joseph Bubman, Executive Director of Urban Rural Action. “We're thrilled to implement this program with our local partners."

Media Contact: Ted Volchok, Oregon Organizer, UR Action, ted@uraction.org

​The Corvallis County Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to serving the business needs of its members, and advancing the interests of all business, for the good of the community.

AFT-Oregon, a state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, advocates for quality education and health care for all Oregonians.

NeighborImpact represents and serves economically disadvantaged residents of Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson counties and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

​UR Action brings Americans together across geographic, political, racial, and other divides to build relationships, strengthen our collaboration skills, explore different perspectives, and take action together to address issues that impact all communities. 

Uniting for Action on the Maryland Economy to launch statewide in September

Non-partisan, grassroots initiative aims to build relationships across divides and tackle economic challenges across the state


[Hagerstown, MD] – June 11, 2021 – Civic and business organizations are teaming up this fall to launch Uniting for Action on the Maryland Economy, a nine-month program to build new community relationships across divides and tackle economic challenges through collaboration. The program will be implemented collectively by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University, and national non-profit Urban Rural Action.
​ 
​Uniting for Action on the Maryland Economy aims to achieve several goals: build new connections among Marylanders across geographic, political, racial, and other divides, strengthen individual collaboration skills, tackle local and state economic challenges, contribute to improved civic health, and make democratic participation of ordinary Marylanders possible, probable, and powerful. The program builds on a pilot initiative implemented in 2020 by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce and Urban Rural Action. 


“Two of our chamber’s values are diversity and collaboration," said Paul Frey, CEO and President of the Washington County Chamber. “I can think of no better way for our business community to build relationships, that then help tackle common economic challenges across Maryland, than to be a part of Uniting for Action.

Organizers expect to admit into the program 30-50 applicants with wide-ranging views who live in a variety of communities across the state. They are targeting community members eager to collaborate across differences to help alleviate economic hardship and related social, environmental, and political challenges in Maryland. ​

“Part of our mission at SNF Agora is to create opportunities for people to come together to debate and disagree, to contest values and ideas, and then to act together to create the solutions they want to see in their own lives. It’s essential to a healthy democracy that citizens are able to engage in that kind of shared work,” says Hahrie Han, Inaugural Director of the SNF Agora Institute. “We’re very excited to collaborate on this project and to bring together Marylanders with different backgrounds, from different parts of the state, to find common cause and to begin to solve some of our persistent economic problems.”

Program participants will gather in person for workshops in Hagerstown and Baltimore beginning on September 18 and subsequently on Zoom for structured discussion, small group brainstorming, and action planning. The action will come in the form of small-scale projects implemented through May 2022. 

Participant teams will partner with the implementing organizations and community groups to implement projects that advance ongoing efforts on issues such as small business recovery, workforce development, community economic growth, entrepreneurship, and broadband.

“The purpose of the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (MDHCC) is to serve the Hispanic business community by promoting business opportunities, providing resources, and making connections with other communities through awareness,” said Sila Alegret-Bartel, who leads the Western Maryland chapter of MDHCC from Hagerstown. “Being a part of Uniting for Action, and interacting with other communities and groups, will help our purpose by building networks across many divides, creating relationships, and establishing partnerships with Hispanic-owned businesses.”


​Media Contacts: Catherine Pierre, Director of Communications, SNF Agora, cpierre@jhu.edu

​The Washington County Chamber of Commerce works to foster and maintain a thriving business climate in which its members and community can grow and prosper.

The Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce promotes the establishment, growth, prosperity and retention of Hispanic businesses, and those entities and persons that support them in Maryland.

SNF Agora Institute is a multidisciplinary academic and public forum at Johns Hopkins University dedicated to strengthening global democracy by improving and expanding civic engagement and inclusive dialogue, and by supporting inquiry that leads to real-world change.

UR Action brings Americans together across geographic, political, racial, and other divides to build relationships, strengthen our collaboration skills, explore different perspectives, and take action together to address issues that impact all communities.  

​Urban Rural Action Stands with the Asian American Community


March 22, 2021
​ 

Urban Rural Action condemns the reoccurring violence against Asian Americans, including the recent killings in Atlanta that took the lives of eight people, six of them women of Asian descent. We stand in solidarity and mourning with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Anti-Asian hate crimes have surged 149% during the COVID-19 pandemic – a number that includes only reported crimes – with a disproportionate impact on women. These trends have perpetuated our shameful history of otherizing AAPI communities as agents of foreign nations. Our collective recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic must include justice and safety for Asian Americans.

We recognize that our recovery must also include honest conversations about the failures to curb the spread of COVID-19, both within the U.S. and in other countries. Yet as we have those hard conversations, let us not forget that rhetoric matters, with real-life impacts on the AAPI community. Attacks and discrimination will not rid us of the virus, but they will damage the fabric of our country. Our legitimate policy conversations must not foster an environment that puts our AAPI neighbors and our American values at risk.

The UR Action team


Media Contact:  
Kira Hamman, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, kira@uraction.org
 

Urban Rural Action Speaks Out on Violence in the U.S. Capitol

January 7, 2021

Like most Americans, we at Urban Rural Action condemn yesterday’s desecration of our democracy in the U.S. Capitol by violent extremists. We applaud our fellow Americans from across the ideological spectrum who embrace a peaceful transition of power regardless of the outcome of the election. 

We recognize the deep-seated drivers of political violence in the United States, including widespread distrust of governing institutions; negative partisanship and toxic polarization; widening gaps in education, income, and health; partisan media; misinformation and disinformation; isolation and loneliness; violent use of firearms; and divisive leaders who exploit our grievances for their personal gain. And we must be clear about the proximate cause of yesterday’s assault on our Capitol: the President’s inflammatory rhetoric to his supporters in an effort to reverse the outcome of the election and cling to power.

But there is nothing inevitable about where we are headed as a country. UR Action was founded on the conviction that our geographic, racial, political, and other differences are a source of strength -- that we can build relationships by solving problems together, and we can solve problems together by building new relationships. Let us therefore continue the long, hard task of working across our divides to strengthen our democracy and address causes of political violence. There is no better time to further dedicate ourselves to the work of strengthening democracy than when it is threatened. 

An often-overlooked dynamic in conflict zones around the world is that more people choose to engage peacefully in their society than take up arms. A small mob attempting to achieve political aims by force is overwhelmed by the vast majority of Americans who believe in the peaceful norms of our democratic republic. There is one overwhelming reason this effort to undermine America will fail: us. 

The UR Action team


Media Contact:  
Logan Grubb, Program Director, logan@uraction.org

Urban Rural Action Calls for Patience and Peace

November 4, 2020


As peacebuilders, Urban Rural Action aims to build bridges across divides and address sources of conflict. In the United States, advancing peace requires producing just outcomes in our democracy. And in America’s democratic elections, that means every vote must be counted because every vote counts. That is why we are absolutely united in our call for all ballots appropriately cast to be counted, consistent with the law and the integrity of our electoral process. 

We applaud Americans nationwide who have contributed to a peaceful election process, an outcome that we must continue working to achieve. We need to remain patient while an unprecedented number of votes is tallied. As we do so, we must reject violence and embrace peaceful political expression. 

As a network of Americans from different types of communities and with views across the ideological spectrum, we bring a wide range of political preferences to our collaborations across the urban/rural divide. Expected and unexpected developments in the coming days and weeks will elate some of us and anger others. When legal challenges, inflammatory rhetoric, and misinformation threaten the stability of our deeply divided union, we Americans must meet this moment to uphold our tradition of peaceful and fair elections. We call on those who welcome the ultimate results to show grace and humility, and those who are displeased to peacefully accept the finality of a just electoral outcome.

Ensuring a peaceful future for our country requires more than elected officials. That awesome task depends on all of us. We celebrate Americans who, regardless of the outcome, will continue to work tirelessly to better our communities and our nation.


Media Contact:  
Joseph Bubman, Executive Director, joe@uraction.org

Uniting for Action: America to launch nationwide on September 9

Non-partisan initiative aims to strengthen the country by building connections and addressing challenges across political, racial, regional, and other divides

Los Angeles] – August 25, 2020 – Five U.S. nonprofits will launch Uniting for Action: America, an innovative program beginning September 9 that aims to build new relationships and promote collaboration across political, racial, geographic, generational, and other divides. The program will be implemented collectively by Urban Rural Action, Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security, and Conflict Transformation, News Literacy Project, BridgeUSA, and BridgePeople.  

Uniting for Action: America aims to achieve four goals: build new connections across divides, increase understanding of different perspectives on key issues, strengthen collaboration skills, and take meaningful action to address societal challenges. Program participants will meet on Zoom seven times for structured discussion, small group brainstorming, and collaboration focused on taking action. The action will come in the form of online projects that participants design themselves and implement up until March 2021. 

“Uniting for Action: America very much builds on our intrastate programs in Maryland and Pennsylvania,” said Joseph Bubman, executive director at Urban Rural Action. “We’re thrilled to be able to use online technology to scale up to a national program and to do it with four terrific partner organizations.”

Organizers expect 35-50 participants with wide-ranging views who live in a variety of communities across the country to join in the program. The nonprofits’ goal is to attract community members eager to engage across differences and take action themselves amid public health challenges, economic hardship, and racial injustice. 

Participants will form teams with other community members interested in tackling the same issue, such as economic recovery, income inequality, systemic racism, mass incarceration, gun violence, homelessness, hunger, unaffordable housing, and lack of access to health care. Program organizers will use Zoom breakout room functionality during gatherings to group together issue teams and a Uniting for Action moderator for collaboration.

“When the world appears stuck in a cycle of misinformation feeding misunderstanding and vice versa, it is important to learn how we can each make a difference,” said Miriam Romais, the senior manager of education and training for the News Literacy Project. “That’s why we’re so pleased to partner with Urban Rural Action and help participants develop basic skills to separate fact from falsehoods, letting deeper conversations, learning, and civic action emerge.”

According to program organizers, community projects might include reducing food waste across communities; working with local businesses to hire more formerly incarcerated individuals; implementing a social media campaign to promote respect for different viewpoints; conducting virtual workshops on constructive conversations across differences; starting a community bail fund, and training local educators on stopping the spread of misinformation. The community projects will benefit from support from the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College and from participants’ $25 registration fees.

 

“Our country is rife with division: ideological, identity-based, and geographic," said Ross Irwin, Chief Operating Officer of BridgeUSA. "We believe that to overcome this division and polarization we must constructively engage with those different from us. BridgeUSA is super excited to be a part of this program because it is bringing this mode of engagement to individuals throughout our country.”

In between gatherings, participants will use Slack to continue the connection, conversation, and collaboration. Additional program events, such as online training from the News Literacy Project, will equip participants with tools to identify credible news and other information and learn what to trust, share, and act on. 

Program organizers are using a selective application process that prioritizes political, geographic, economic, and social (racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, etc.) diversity. Organizers encourage applicants to reach out to others from different backgrounds about participating in the program and to refer them. The application deadline is Aug. 30.
 
Media Contacts:  
Logan Grubb, Urban Rural Action, logan@uraction.org 
Mike Webb, News Literacy Project, mwebb@newslit.org

Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security, and Conflict Transformation advances the leadership and professional development of women of color in the fields of international peace, security, and conflict transformation.

News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan national education nonprofit, provides programs and resources for educators and the public to teach, learn, and share the abilities needed to be smart, active consumers of news and information and equal and engaged participants in a democracy. 

BridgeUSA develops the next generation of engaged, informed, and constructive citizens.

BridgePeople equips peace-builders, committed change agents, justice-seeking philanthropists, socially-minded organizations, and social entrepreneurs to advance peace and justice through transformational relationship building.

Urban Rural Action brings together people across the urban/rural divide for local action to strengthen our communities and our country.
 

New Hampshire Listens and UR Action Win Grant from New Hampshire Humanities to Deepen Connection and Understanding Across the Granite State's Urban/Rural Divide

[Concord, NH] – July 15, 2020 – New Hampshire Listens and Urban Rural Action announced Wednesday that they have been awarded a New Hampshire Humanities (NHH) grant to implement a new 12-month program, “Deepening Connection and Understanding Across New Hampshire's Urban/Rural Divide.” This non-partisan initiative aims to respond to increased tensions that many community members experience with family members, neighbors, and work colleagues amid social crises and hyper-partisanship. 
 
This grant was made available through New Hampshire Humanities’ Community Projects Grants program, which enables nonprofits and educational institutions to design and carry out multi-faceted projects. The "Deepening Connection and Understanding" program will use the humanities to build connections, strengthen collaboration skills, and promote understanding across distance and difference in New Hampshire. 

“New Hampshire Humanities is honored to support such an important initiative as we work to connect all people in New Hampshire with inspiring and challenging ideas,” said Anthony Poore, NHH Executive Director. “Building relationships and exploring different perspectives across the Granite State is an essential element of our work, and we believe critical for lifelong learning, civic engagement, and genuine civil dialogue and discourse.”

The program is open to all New Hampshire residents 18+ from urban, suburban, and rural areas with wide-ranging views who want to build relationships and explore different perspectives across the Granite State’s geographic, socioeconomic, and ideological divides. Participants will build skills for constructive conversation across differences and apply them to grapple with challenges such as systemic racism, the Coronavirus pandemic, and economic inequality.
 
“One of our core values at NH Listens is collaboration,” said Michele Holt-Shannon, Executive Director and Co-founder of New Hampshire Listens. “We know collaboration can be hard, and we believe solving complex problems requires it. A mix of perspectives helps us recognize and temper our own biases -- and we all have them. There is so much frustration right now -- we are hoping this can be a chance to build trust and increase understanding beyond the sound bites.” 
 
When the program kicks off in September, 40 to 60 participants will gather online on several occasions for reflection and small group brainstorming. Participants will also build connections and deepen understanding via a private online community. The final event will be a public storytelling session in which participants share experiences in the program. 
 
“We are thrilled and deeply thankful to continue this work with the support of New Hampshire Humanities at such a critical time in the history of our state and our nation,” said Ethan Underhill, UR Action’s New Hampshire State Director. “Good citizens may not be aligned on everything, but in making an effort to understand each other, disagree better, and take action on areas of joint interest, all of us can play a pivotal role in reweaving the social fabric of our communities.”


Media Contacts:  
Michele Holt-Shannon, New Hampshire Listens, Michele.Holt-Shannon@unh.edu
Ethan Underhill, Urban Rural Action, urbanruralaction@gmail.com
Rebecca Kinhan, New Hampshire Humanities, rkinhan@nhhumanities.org
 
New Hampshire Humanities harnesses the power of the humanities by offering programs, grants, and opportunities to all people of New Hampshire, supporting lifelong learning and fostering civic engagement and discourse.
 
New Hampshire Listens helps New Hampshire residents talk, listen, and act together to create communities that work for everyone.
 
UR Action
brings together community members across the urban/rural divide for local action to strengthen our communities and our country.

Urban Rural Action Speaks Out on Violence Across United States

[Los Angeles, CA] – June 2, 2020 – Like most Americans, we at Urban Rural Action are devastated and outraged by the tragic killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. We condemn the discriminatory policing that disproportionately targets communities of color and results in the deaths of African-Americans. We call for replacing looting, arson, and violence with a shared commitment to reimagine and rebuild a more equitable nation. And we stand with our fellow community members fighting peacefully for justice for all Americans. 

UR Action was inspired by the work of conflict management professionals dedicated to preventing organized violence in conflict zones around the world. We founded UR Action in 2019 based on a recognition and a belief.

A recognition that the underlying dynamics that fuel violent conflict globally are also present in the United States.

 

  • Substantial abuses by security forces

  • A justice system that favors the wealthy, the connected, and/or the majority over the poor, the marginalized, and/or the minority

  • Widening gaps in education, income, and health between the haves and have-nots

  • Public health crises

  • Exploitation of technology to fuel misinformation

  • Systemic discrimination of minorities that fuels grievances over centuries

  • Divisive leaders who exploit those grievances for personal gain

  • Distrust of institutions

  • And a governance system ill-equipped to address these challenges

As peacebuilders, we recognize that these conflict dynamics can tragically escalate into violence via triggers like a pandemic or a severe economic shock — or a video of a public killing of an unarmed black community member by a white police officer. The escalation we’re witnessing in our cities right now includes a range of actions — from peaceful civic engagement to reckless destruction — that involve diverse groups of people with varied motivations.  

But UR Action was also founded on the belief that:

  • Doing nothing is a choice — a choice with consequences.

  • It’s possible to build meaningful relationships across our geographic, racial, religious, ethnic, economic, and political divides.

  • We can work together to address conflict and improve our collective well-being.

  • Those two outcomes — stronger relationships and meaningful action by ordinary community members — can be mutually reinforcing.​

Our divisions are deepening and the risks of further escalation are increasing. But it’s not too late. We must come together. We must listen to one another. We must forge new relationships. And we must act — together.

 

The UR Action team

Media Contact:
 Joseph Bubman, urbanruralaction@gmail.com

 

UR Action is a non-profit that brings together people across the urban/rural divide for local action to strengthen our communities and our country.

Uniting for Action: Maryland community strengthening program prepares to launch statewide in June

Non-partisan initiative led by national, state, and local organizations aims to build connections and address local challenges across Maryland's divides amid Covid-19 pandemic

[Smithsburg, MD] – May 20, 2020 – An innovative program promoting collaboration across geographic, socioeconomic, and ideological divides in Maryland will kick off online on June 11. The Uniting for Action: Maryland program led by national non-profit Urban Rural Action (UR Action) is free and open to all Maryland residents 18 and up.

Program organizers expect 50-150 participants from urban, suburban, and rural areas with wide-ranging views. They anticipate attracting residents who want to take action themselves to improve their communities, the state, and the country at a time of unprecedented challenges to public health and economic hardship.

“Maryland’s diversity, geographic and otherwise, is one of its great strengths,” said Kira Hamman, UR Action Mid-Atlantic Regional Director. “Uniting for Action will bring Marylanders together across their differences to identify, discuss, and act on issues of common concern, rather than allowing those issues to divide us. We are stronger together, with more perspectives at the table.”

UR Action is collaborating with organizations across the state to implement the program, including the Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement (CDCE) at the University of Maryland, the Washington County Free Library (WCFL), the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, and Leadership Montgomery.

While program participants will begin the collaboration online, they intend to continue by gathering in person, pending Covid-19-related gathering restrictions, for a Uniting for Action summit at the WCFL in Hagerstown on August 7-8, 2020. In-person collaboration is expected to continue into 2021 with a Uniting for Action summit in Montgomery County.

“At a time of political turmoil and social and economic crises, our country needs increased collaboration across our divides,” said Sarah Nadeau, head of Community Partnerships at WCFL. “Uniting for Action: Maryland will enable community members to build new connections, strengthen collaboration skills, explore different perspectives, and take joint action that strengthens our communities and our country.” 

Program participants will meet once a month online for structured discussion, small group brainstorming, and collaboration focused on taking action. The action will come in the form of projects within and across communities that participants design themselves. According to program organizers, community projects might include social media campaigns that promote respect for different political perspectives, efforts to counter misinformation, and initiatives to address local Covid-19-related needs. 

“We are excited to help program participants analyze and tackle issues in their communities and our state that they want to address,” said Dr. Stella Rouse, Director of CDCE at the University of Maryland.  “We see efforts to help participants design community projects as particularly important to improving the effectiveness of our democracy.”

Media Contact: Kira Hamman, urbanruralaction@gmail.com

UR Action is a non-profit that brings together people across the urban/rural divide for local action to strengthen our communities and our country.

Uniting for Action: Pennsylvania community strengthening program prepares to launch statewide in May

Non-partisan initiative aims to build connections and address local challenges across Pennsylvania's divides amid Covid-19 pandemic

[Philadelphia] – April 27, 2020 – An innovative program promoting collaboration across geographic, socioeconomic, and ideological divides in Pennsylvania will kick off online on May 7. Uniting for Action: Pennsylvania is a joint initiative from the Free Library of Philadelphia, the PA Project for Civic Engagement, and national non-profit Urban Rural Action.

The program is free and open to the public. Program organizers expect 50-100 participants from urban, suburban, and rural areas with wide-ranging views. They anticipate attracting residents who want to take action themselves to improve their communities, the Commonwealth, and the country at a time of unprecedented challenges to public health and economic hardship.

“Libraries have long been conveners of brave conversations about what divides us and what we have in common. The Uniting for Action program takes that a step farther by connecting Pennsylvanians across distances and differences for meaningful civic engagement,” said Andrew Nurkin, Deputy Director of Enrichment and Civic Engagement at the Free Library.

While program participants will begin the collaboration online, they intend to continue by gathering in person for summits at Gettysburg College and the Free Library of Philadelphia when this can be done safely and in line with regulations.

Program participants will meet once a month online for structured discussion, small group brainstorming, and collaboration focused on taking action. The action will come in the form of projects within and across communities that participants design themselves.

“There are three types of people: Those who love to argue, those who are only interested in their own ideas, and those who love to work together to make communities better across America,” said Chad Collie, UR Action Pennsylvania State Director and community leader in Adams County. “Uniting for Action is uniquely dedicated to the last of those three.”

According to program organizers, community projects might include social media campaigns that promote respect for different political perspectives, efforts to counter misinformation, and initiatives to address local Covid-19-related needs. The community projects will benefit from support from the Free Library, Penn State University’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy, and Gettysburg College’s Eisenhower Institute.

“People sometimes scoff that programs like this are ‘just talk,””  said Chris Satullo, Co-director of the PA Project for Civic Engagement. “In my experience, though, diverse, well-done dialogues like this can frame problems in wise ways that lead to smart solutions and real-world impact.” 

​Media Contacts:  
Chad Collie, UR Action, Adams County, urbanruralaction@gmail.com 
Kaitlyn Foti, Free Library of Philadelphia, fotik@freelibrary.org 

The Free Library of Philadelphia advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity.


The PA Project on Civic Engagement helps diverse groups hold productive dialogues across differences of belief, position, or partisan allegiance.


UR Action brings together people across the urban/rural divide for local action to strengthen our communities and our country.

Urban Rural Action Speaks Out on Gun Violence

[Waynesboro, PA] – August 7, 2019 – Urban Rural Action mourns the loss of the 31 people killed in back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton last weekend, as well as the approximately 100 Americans who die each day due to gun violence. We stand with communities across this country recovering from gun violence and committed to a more peaceful future.

As a young organization working on the frontlines of one of America’s most divisive issues, this bloody weekend begs us to reflect on what we know about gun violence, what we believe, and what we plan to do about it:

What we know about gun violence:

  1. The U.S. has experienced more than 250 mass shootings in 2019, a uniquely American crisis. 

  2. Nearly 36,000 Americans are killed with guns each year. In 2017, gun deaths reached their highest level in at least 40 years.

  3. Gun violence takes numerous forms. Nearly ⅔ of gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides. Domestic violence, urban gun violence, and unintentional shootings also account for large portions of total gun deaths.

What we believe: 

  1. We cannot accept a status quo in which gun violence becomes the norm in our streets, schools, and houses of worship. While no single measure will “solve” the gun violence problem, that is no excuse for doing nothing.

  2. Treating those with different views on guns as our adversaries is unlikely to address our underlying political and social divisions and may worsen them instead. Addressing gun violence in Congress and our communities requires constructively engaging people who have different perspectives from our own.

  3. We should advocate for legislation likely to reduce gun violence, but we shouldn’t wait for our legislators to act. We need to come together in person to take action within and across our communities – urban and rural.

What we plan to do about it:

  1. We’re piloting a gun safety and violence prevention partnership between more rural Franklin County, PA and more urban Washington, D.C. beginning September that will unite firearms organizations and gun violence prevention groups that have never worked together before and traditionally viewed each other as adversaries.

  2. The centerpieces of the program are collective action projects that participants will design and implement in both Franklin County and D.C. to strengthen gun safety and/or reduce gun violence across the two communities. 

  3. We’ll share the outcomes of this collaboration with you, and we stand ready to support groups that would like to replicate this effort in their own regions.

If you’d like to support our efforts or learn more, email us at urbanruralaction@gmail.com.
 
The UR Action team


Media Contact: Madeline Rose, urbanruralaction@gmail.com

UR Action is a non-profit that brings together people across the urban/rural divide for local action to strengthen our communities and our country.

Urban Rural Action Wins Grant from Vera Institute of Justice to Reduce Incarceration in Adams County and Philadelphia

Grant is part of Vera’s In Our Backyards Community Grantees program, benefiting 16 organizations in 7 states

[Adams County, PA] – June 5, 2019 – The Vera Institute of Justice announced Tuesday that Urban Rural Action and the Pennsylvania Prison Society won an “In Our Backyards Community Grant” to build consensus between urban and rural communities on criminal justice reform in Adams County, PA and Philadelphia. Through the “Consensus-Building for Incarceration Reform” (CBIR) program, UR Action will advance collaborative efforts to reduce incarceration and improve jail conditions in Adams County and Philadelphia.

This grant was made available through Vera’s In Our Backyards initiative, which has been at the forefront of research and analysis around the rise of incarceration in small cities and rural communities such as Adams County. This changing geography means that while campaigns in cities like New York, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Philadelphia have secured powerful commitments from elected leaders to close jails, hundreds of smaller communities across the country are grappling with a rising but quiet jail boom.

CBIR aims to strengthen the influence, advocacy, and consensus-building capacities of a network of criminal justice reform advocates, community leaders, and jail officials in Adams County and Philadelphia; increase the network’s familiarity with data on incarceration rates and jail conditions; develop advocacy strategies to reduce incarceration and improve jail conditions; and build relationships among participants through homestays and shared meals.

“Mass incarceration negatively impacts families and communities in urban and rural areas across the United States,” said Joseph Bubman, founder and Executive Director of UR Action. “Strengthened urban/rural collaboration on criminal justice reform will not only address systemic inequities, reduce recidivism, and save taxpayers money, but can also foster relationships and trust across the urban/rural divide in the process.”

UR Action will implement CBIR in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Prison Society, founded in 1787 by signers of the Declaration of Independence to ensure humane conditions in Pennsylvania prisons and promotes criminal justice laws to “return our fellow creatures to virtue and happiness.”

Media Contact: Madeline Rose, urbanruralaction@gmail.com

UR Action is a non-profit that brings together people across the urban/rural divide for local action to strengthen our communities and our country.

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