Wayne Baker is Chair of the Management & Organizations area at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Robert P. Thome Professor of Business Administration, and Professor of Management & Organizations. He is also Professor of Sociology at Michigan, and Faculty Associate at the Institute for Social Research. Dr. Baker has published over sixty academic articles and five books, including America’s Crisis of Values: Reality and Perception (Princeton University Press). He blogs five days a week at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialog. Dr. Baker resides in Ann Arbor with his wife Cheryl and their son.
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A Republican, a Democrat, and a Buddhist Walk into a Room …
An historic event took place recently in the seaside town of Belfast, Maine. Ten people of vastly different political persuasions — Libertarians, Tea Party Republicans, Democrats, and Progressives — sat in a circle, had a civil dialogue about their hopes and fears for America, and discovered their common ground. Their experience is a model of the local dialogues we so desperately need to build bridges across the political divide.
And yes, one of the 10 is a Buddhist. Judith Simpson, a practicing Buddhist, facilitated the conversation. Judith is an organizational development consultant who has worked with the likes of Eastman Kodak and Corning. She facilitates using a group process called Dialogue. Judith now plies her skills in restorative justice. Dorothy Odell organized the event. She has worked in education as a teacher and as a member of the Belfast School Board. Both reside in Belfast.
“I’ve gotten upset with the media fanning the flames of the story that we’re a polarized nation,” said Dorothy. Judith agreed. Together, they decided to do something about it.