Los Angeles is one of the most diverse, dynamic, and innovative cities in the world. However, seemingly intractable differences immobilize civic leaders, splinter communities, debilitate public discourse, and foster a culture of shaming, stereotyping, and suspicion among neighbors, students, and groups at all levels. How can we build a better future?
Luckily, LA is also home to Landecker Democracy Fellow Maia and an innovative community of “Bridge Builders” – organizations, leaders, and practitioners with training and expertise in conflict resolution, communication across differences, facilitation, and models of deliberative and collective decision-making. “Bridge Building” work increases individual and collective capacities to resolve conflict, work across differences, and lead empathically and effectively. These capacities are central to a healthy city and civil society.
The LA Bridge Builders Collective mobilizes collective expertise and resources to promote the practice of bridge building as indispensable social infrastructure for addressing LA’s greatest challenges. The collective envisions an LA that utilizes bridge building as a core organizing principle, making LA an effective global model for addressing conflict as it emerges, healing and holding communal differences, and cultivating a healthy and functional civic culture.
“Our capacity to build resilient connections across difference is essential to our communities’, country’s, and world’s survival. I look forward to helping elevate the field of ‘bridge building’ in Los Angeles to ensure we are doing just that.”
This project will be to map the landscape of this emerging field in LA. The collective will develop a region-wide survey to identify the organizations, initiatives, and individuals engaged in bridge building, using a definition of bridge building developed by the collective members. This mapping will allow the collective, funders, politicians, community organizations, and other leaders to understand the state of the field as it stands, to identify gaps in the field, and to locate bridging resources more easily (e.g., facilitators).
Complementing this map, Maia will highlight bridge building success stories. This might involve a podcast, a series of feature articles, or a film highlighting stories and experiences of transformation due to bridge building work. Through the stories of numerous organizations and types of bridge building, she will construct a more complete narrative of what bridge building looks like in LA. The map and stories will be housed on an interactive and filterable website. This will be a landing page for LA leaders to easily navigate the field of bridge building and contact the founders of the Collective for advice and support. Ultimately, the LA Bridge Builders Collective will elevate, highlight, and enhance the field of bridge building, and create a collaborative model that can be replicated in cities and communities across the world.
Updated December 2021.