A new model for civil civic conversation

How the Purpose Power Town Hall facilitates connection and seeds change

Too often these days, we look to experts and politicians for the answers to our questions.

In reality, people have been solving community problems together throughout history, coming together in conversation to discuss and decide the ways to provide for their communities and create change. …

It’s Time for America’s Leaders to Define a Future-Focused Vision

Democratic Presidential hopefuls are quick to criticize President Trump for a host of ills, but he’s hardly the only person to blame for the current state of America.

Most of our problems have been decades in the making. As a field organizer in Florida during the 2016 election, I saw firsthand how much distance has emerged between average people and politics. …

Finding our humanity in an individualistic world

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

I am not a comedian. I was never good at improv. I have never done stand-up. A few times, I’ve performed at a poetry open mic. I never won.

In my own quiet corners of solitude, I have wondered about doing standup comedy. I have watched Stephen Colbert deliver his opening monologue and thought what a thrill it would be to stand in front of a room full of humans and make them laugh. I have reflected at length on the jokes I could make about my family and my life. …

How Community Fuels Future Vision

This Wednesday, March 6, join us for the Purpose Power Hour to hear Professor Thomas McCollough share his reflections on moral imagination and public life.

A child of Waldorf education which explicitly forbids electronic media, I spent most of my childhood imagining something. …

The subtle art of giving a shit

The first time I got in trouble at school I was 13 years old. I was working on a science project alongside a rambunctious kid who often went too far clowning around. Making silly noises and asking idiotic questions, he was getting on my nerves. “Will you please be quiet?” I said with exasperation.

My response was like a magnet, shifting his provocations directly to me. I turned and faced him, a large chunk of clay held in my hand. “Stop it!” I said, “or I’m going to shove clay in your face!”

He smiled mischievously and then opened his mouth to issue a slew of garbled noises while shaking his head repeatedly. Without hesitating even a moment, I shoved the clay directly into his open maw. …

Finding Empathy in an Age of Anger

Last week, I listened to Stephen Colbert talk to Conan O’Brien for an hour on Conan Needs a Friend. Equal parts nostalgic and funny, I was moved to tears by Colbert’s reflection on the death of his father and two brothers. The depth of connection he felt with Conan made it safe for him to be raw, open, vulnerable, and connected to his humanity as he articulated the magical thinking that had moved him through his life.

Human connection, our ability to join with another human being in conversation, movement, dance, or song, helps restore my faith in humanity and my faith in myself. Yet in today’s world, connection is increasingly hard to find. Six years ago, MIT professor Sherry Turkle spoke at TED about the damaging effects of simultaneous over-connection and social isolation that result from our overuse of technology. …

What we believe will decide our future

I spent the fall of 2016 working as an organizer on the Hillary Clinton campaign wishing that our candidate would speak in broad and inspirational terms about her values and vision for America. Yet Clinton seemed certain her technocratic policy proposals were sufficient.

As the 2020 election draws more and more Democratic candidates into the race to beat Trump, it seems the party has learned an important lesson: detailed policy promises do not spur rampant enthusiasm. Values, and the feelings they provoke, are far more useful motivators.

Last week, Stacey Abrams responded to the State of the Union address by inviting Americans to return to their values. She started with those of her own family: faith, service, education, and responsibility, citing her father’s conviction to give a homeless man the coat off his back because of his deep faith in his family. …

Resolutions for 2019 and the Next 33 Years

This year, I turned 33. It’s a strange time marker, an auspicious year. The year in his life that Jesus died. One third of the way through a one-hundred-year life. I decided to dedicate this year to DEMOCRACY with nine resolutions I hope to remember and carry with me for the next 33.

Resolution #1: Do Something Every Day That Scares You

The world is a scary place. It is so much easier to keep your head down, to give up on the big bold idea. But pushing to the edge of our comfort zone is how we grow.

My go-to “scary” is a handstand. It’s an easy way to invert my perspective and remind myself that my future is in my hands. Literally! 😜 But scary is also reaching out to unlikely allies, extending a hand, asking others to join me on the journey. Risking rejection is the only way we build the bridge to new friendships. …

Change begins with dialogue

America needs a political reset. The Purpose Power Town Hall Tour starts an open conversation about shared values and vision. By talking with our community, we can connect to what matters most and commit to take action towards our shared goals.

On an evening in early December, a few dozen people gathered in a community center in North Brooklyn. …

#PurposeSeven: The Purpose Power Framework

I started a business and wrote a book to help mission-driven leaders more effectively engage for change. The Heptagon Method, or the #PurposeSeven, is a seven-step framework designed to take big, bold, ambitious ideas from ideology to action. Here’s the high-level overview of this approach.

#PurposeSeven & the Art of Engagement

You have to sit before you stand. You have to crawl before you walk. Almost everything in life is incremental. It takes time and dedication to work through the stages of progress that will ultimately achieve a desired result.

It’s not enough to work within a negative frame. Objection and resistance are insufficient to deliver the future we desire. We have to know what we stand for, not just what we’re against. We have to do the work to define and understand the core ideas that drive us to engage for change. …


Alicia Bonner Ness

It’s time to reimagine possible.

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