We explore the work of two media projects, based in the US and Germany, that are attempting to bridge potentially explosive community divides. 

  • Community in Unity aims to get people who normally wouldn’t interact into the same room, sit them in a circle, and let them talk.  Each conversation starts by asking participants to actively listen to each other with respect, to seek understanding, and to accept that the conversation may bring up issues that won’t be resolved--for example, around incarceration and reintegration of former prisoners. This project creates opportunities for Alaskans to gain a better understanding of life in prison and for inmates to learn how they can fit back into the community.
  • My New Homeland - Your New Homeland will bring senior citizens with experiences of displacement during WW2 together with recent migrants who have relocated to Germany (North Rhine Westphalia), in towns troubled by prejudice and polarization, to talk about “finding a home (Heimatfindung). How is it possible to begin a new life in a foreign land? The project aims to reduce social distances through moderated public conversations and create integration through direct personal encounters.
  • Zeit Online’s “Germany Talks” aims to get Germans talking to Germans – a true dialogue involving the open exchange of opposing views and arguments. Face to face, across the country. No politicians, just you and another reader in your area.

This session is a part of the Finding Common Ground initiative that aims to achieve cross-border collaboration with engagement practitioners in the media by supporting projects that get people to look up from their devices, meet people with different opinions, listen, and engage in meaningful and civil dialogue across silos and polarized positions.

Moderator: Regina Lawrence


Anne Hillman, Alaska Public Media’s Community in Unity

Ina Daniel, Idmedien’s My New Homeland - Your New Homeland

Sebastian Horn, Zeit Online’s Germany Talks

Organised in association with the Agora Journalism Center, the gathering place for innovation in communication and civic engagement, at University of Oregon’s School of Journalism & Communication. Finding Common Ground is made possible through generous grants from Robert Bosch Stiftung and News Integrity Initiative.