Working Together on Issues that Matter

Eric GiordanoAcross Wisconsin we observe a persistent sense of frustration that transcends political persuasion. Opinions vary widely on problems such as gun rights vs. control; the disposition of immigrants; the role of government, and so on. As a strictly nonpartisan organization, we take no position on these issues.

But we do have a strong viewpoint. We believe in the ability of communities and residents to engage with one another and work together to solve challenging issues.

Many, however, are giving up, disengaging or hunkering down until “something better” comes along. This is not an effective strategy for improvement. To engage with one another on the issues, even if all we can do is start a conversation, is the beginning of doing something constructive.

The hard part comes when we realize that our ideas might conflict with our neighbor’s. What then? In a world of high political stakes in which gaining and keeping power and controlling the agenda are the prize—where any small victory by one side is a bitter defeat for the other—can citizens find a way to engage productively with one another?

The answer is a resounding YES. Residents working together with nonprofits, businesses and local governments solve issues every day. WIPPS’ mission is to encourage and support these efforts. To this end, we are excited for 2016 and the promise of new beginnings.

In the wake of recent terrorist incidents, we hosted two interfaith dialogues in February featuring representatives from five Abrahamic faiths who gave insightful perspectives on how different faith communities view and interact with others. In the spring, we will be taking an in-depth look at the Pope’s surprisingly influential Encyclical Letter, “On Care for Our Common Home”, from two unique perspectives: social justice advocate Sister Simone Campbell and Bishop Richard Pates of the Des Moines Diocese.

We are excited to introduce the “Voices of Democracy” project, which will bring together residents in two Wisconsin cities to address challenging local issues. In late spring, we will also launch The Washington Seminar, a public policy course offered through the UW Colleges that will allow students to engage directly with policymakers in Madison and Washington, D.C.