NEW YORK, Dec. 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Starts With Us, with support from more than 100 leaders across business and culture, today unveiled an ambitious plan to improve how all Americans relate to different people and perspectives. Through educational and inspirational digital content and impactful grassroots programming, the civic movement will foster curiosity, empathy, and courage as daily habits and levers for social change. To kick off, Starts With Us is inviting all Americans to sign a pledge to uphold these values by listening more, judging less, and meaningfully connecting across lines of difference. The pledge, which can be found nationwide on today's front cover of USA Today and on Instagram @startswithus, comes with a twist: after signing, people are encouraged to reach out to someone with whom they don't see eye-to-eye and ask them to also sign.
Starts With Us aims to provide a path for people exhausted by the constant finger-pointing and resentment and mobilize them to build a stronger society – starting with themselves. The group has already begun releasing social media "nudges" that encourage people to deliberate with curiosity, relate with empathy, and collaborate with courage. Through evidence-backed exercises and engaging experiences – including games, quizzes, documentary shorts, and more – Starts With Us promotes the development of skills such as introspection, critical thinking, active listening, non-judgmental thinking, perspective-taking, and nuanced communication. The content draws on social science and is developed in partnership with leading academic institutions, including Open Mind; Greater Good Science Center; and the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.
Daniel Lubetzky, who has 30 years of experience bridging divides between citizens in the Middle East and is known as the founder of KIND Snacks, conceived of Starts With Us in partnership with numerous thought leaders. The founding partners, who will deploy their expertise to help people connect more effectively, include:
- Author and organizational psychologist at Wharton Adam Grant;
- Humanitarian and chef José Andrés;
- King Center CEO, human rights leader, and social change advocate Dr. Bernice King;
- Global strategy and innovation professional and Senior Managing Partner at IBM Jesus Mantas;
- Psychology professor at NYU, author, and researcher Jay Van Bavel;
- Social psychologist, author, and professor at NYU Stern Jonathan Haidt;
- Author, researcher and psychology professor at Lehigh University Dominic Packer;
- Public theologian, activist, and author Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis;
- Director of the Polarization & Extremism Research & Innovation Lab at American University Cynthia Miller-Idriss;
- DEI consultant, keynote speaker, and humorist Karith Foster.
"When I immigrated to the United States as a teenager, I was struck by Americans' ability to forcefully debate an issue and then head to dinner as friends. In the past few years our culture has replaced this special combination of humility and humanity with harshness and a lack of forgiveness," said Daniel Lubetzky. "This is not only harmful to our communities and daily life, but also undermines the social fabric on which our liberal democracy stands."
Karith Foster, who is the creator of INVERSITY™ – a new way to effectively conduct dialogue around DEI in the workplace and academic institutions – said, "It may feel like the world is running short on curiosity, empathy and courage but fear not, they've just been in hibernation. Together, we can be the light that wakes them back up."
Adam Grant, whose #1 New York Times bestselling book Think Again encourages people to question their beliefs, said, "Many people believe that keeping an open mind is something that others need to work on, overlooking that change begins from within. I'm excited about the potential for Starts With Us to help people develop greater humility, curiosity, empathy, and mental flexibility."
Starts With Us will also publish stories that shed a light on our shared humanity, with many of the founding partners serving as content creators. Additionally, Starts With Us will produce and amplify stories from everyday Americans forging positive change in their communities. The digital storytelling will be complemented by a variety of grassroots efforts, including a grant program to accelerate the work of community leaders bridging divides.
About Starts With Us
Starts With Us is a civic movement empowering people to strengthen themselves and society by practicing curiosity, empathy, and courage as daily habits. The nonprofit initiative was launched in December 2021 by more than 100 influential leaders in response to escalating patterns of extreme thought and behavior in the United States. Through a multi-pronged approach, including educational and inspirational digital content and impactful grassroots programming, Starts With Us encourages citizens to improve how they relate across lines of difference by strengthening skills such as critical thinking, active listening, and nuanced communication. To learn more, visit www.startswith.us or follow @startswithus on Instagram.
SOURCE Starts With Us