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On Tuesday, February 26 at noon MST, and again at 6 p.m. MST, the online discussion group Living Room Conversations will host a live, virtual discussion based on the "Tribalism 101" episode of KUER's podcast Next Door Strangers. Next Door Strangers host Andrea Smardon will lead the conversation, during which participants can tune in — and chime in — via their home computers.

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Picture this: People are gathered around in the living room talking about politics. Or religion. You know, the big stuff that it seems like nobody agrees on. The people in the room don’t agree either, but they aren’t fighting. Believe it or not, this scene is taking place in living rooms across the country.

In this episode, Andrea explores how and why people are voluntarily getting out of their comfort zones by engaging people with different viewpoints. Joan Blades, a co-founder of Living Room Conversations, explains how to host one of these gatherings on your own. We’ll even give you a blueprint for how you can make yourself uncomfortable too.

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It’s become an all too familiar story: a conservative firebrand is invited to speak at a college campus known for embracing free speech and contrasting views, a place like UC-Berkeley or NYU. Then, the campus erupts in protests. It some cases, it ends up being more like a fight than an exchange of ideas. Sometimes the protests turn violent or events are canceled altogether. Enter Respect & Rebellion — a new project to help students and the rest of us figure out how to disagree better. They’re testing out their methods on college campuses … and organizers say it starts with relationships.

4: Shadow Work

Dec 4, 2018

Common beliefs are what hold many groups together. So it’s no surprise that differing viewpoints within a group often cause fear or threaten the status quo. Episode 4 focuses on Maxine Hanks, a Mormon feminist who was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1993. Years later, she returned to the church that rejected her. Andrea talks with Maxine about what she’s learned about facing our differences, correcting injustices and healing wounds.

3. Impossibly United

Nov 27, 2018
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There’s a place where we all start to figure out which tribes we belong to. The decisions we make there feel like life or death. And, in a way, it is — those choices really will affect us for years to come, as we continue to decide where we belong and where we don’t. This place is, of course … high school. In this episode, we ask: “Can you unite an entire high school?” Seems impossible, right? But that didn’t stop one group of students.

Andrea talks to teacher Bonnie O’Brien and students from East High School in Salt Lake City about cliques, divisions, unequal opportunities and the solutions they come up with.

Next Door Strangers Episode 2.
Renee Bright / KUER

We’ve covered how tribalism is wreaking havoc in our lives, but tribes are also a source of strength. They’re how humans have organized themselves to survive for thousands of years. We explore the idea that maybe better, stronger tribes are what we really need to repair the social fabric.

This story gets personal for Andrea as she grapples with feeling tribeless as a transplant in Salt Lake City. She talks with a spiritual leader from the Northern Utes, Lacee Harris, about being part of a Native tribe and what it does for him. And we hear from military vet Jason Comstock about war, unity and how he learned to create the tribe he needed with a group called Team Red, White & Blue.

Renee Bright / KUER

People on the left and right may disagree on many things, but they generally agree that tribalism is bad for our country. This episode looks at how we are affected by tribalism in our modern lives and whether there is any hope of getting beyond it.

Andrea talks with LaVonne Maloney, a friend she first met while working as a reporter at KUER. Lavonne hasn’t talked to her sister in nearly two years following an argument about politics. Also, a recent late-night tweet from Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox goes viral when hecalls out political tribalism in the searing debate over family separation at the US-Mexico border. Later, anthropologist Elizabeth Crouch Zelman explains that tribalism is part of all of us, but also threatens our survival.

0: Coming Soon

Nov 5, 2018
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Renee Bright / KUER

Maybe you’ve heard that we are a divided country. Maybe you experience it in your life. Over the course of six episodes, Next Door Strangers is going to peer into people’s lives, getting to the bottom of what divides us and more important, finding ways to connect. We don’t know what we’ll find, but we hope you will join us. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.