The Unify Challenge is on! Nebraska’s is a first in the country

By: - February 2, 2022 10:31 am

Pink sunset and dramatic clouds over a Nebraska field of wild sunflowers (Getty Images)

Civic Nebraska is helping to host the country’s first statewide Unify Challenge, an online conversation project that will connect pairs of Huskers from across political and ideological divides.

Designed to be “much more than a polite conversation,” the virtual event, which is to be replicated in other states, aims to match up pairs of Nebraskans who vote differently, come from different backgrounds or live in different parts of the state.

Unify America is the national partner for the effort. Based on interest so far, coordinators expect more than 100 participants during the three days that the one-on-one online conversations (like Zoom) are to be held: March 1 at noon, March 3 at 7 p.m. and March 5 at 10 a.m.

Anyone living in Nebraska age 18 or older can register.  A summary report is expected later on what was learned and gained. Conversations are private between the two participants, though a moderator is on standby if needed.

“My country’s uniform, which I wore for 36 years, doesn’t represent only Red America or Blue America. It represents the United States of America.” said State Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon. “The Unify Challenge for Nebraska is an important opportunity for all of us to practice this — and to remember how great our country can truly be when we work together to find common ground.”

State Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln said the Unify Challenge isn’t about compromising one’s deeply held beliefs.

“It’s about putting away our caricatures about ‘the other side’ and recognizing our shared humanity,” she said. 

The Civic Nebraska and Unify America project kicks off what will be a series of statewide Unify Challenges in other states this year. Smaller challenges have been held previously, but officials said this series involves entire states.

Based in Lincoln, Civic Nebraska’s mission is to promote a more robust democracy through young civic leadership, civic health programs and voting rights initiatives. Unify America was formed to teach Americans to work together and build a diverse community to solve problems.

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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.