Energy ebbs and flows in all organisms. Rich Midkiff knows that.
But that doesn’t stop him wanting more energy to flow in the Braver Angels community in his west-central part of North Carolina.
Midkiff (Red) lives in Charlotte and splits state coordinator duties with Steve Warshaw (Blue), who handles the eastern half of the Tar Heel State. There’s a vibrant alliance in Asheville in the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west, and another in the Raleigh-Durham area to the northeast. But not in Midkiff’s neck of the woods. “It’s strange to me, and it’s too bad,” he says. “Charlotte is the biggest city in the state and we have probably the least Braver Angels activity.”
So he’s working to do something about it – soon.
First, he plans to connect personally with the six to eight Braver Angels leaders who’ve stepped up previously in his western half of the state, to figure out how they see their future BA involvement and what it will take to get the state back out front again. “In Gastonia, the town just to the west of us, active organizers consistently hosted workshops from 2018 to 2019, and then had more on Zoom during Covid. We need to create that here in Charlotte,” he says.
Midkiff also intends to continue recruiting new members – especially in counties and small towns where there isn’t really a critical mass to get together an alliance or even a loose affiliation of members. As with his peers nationwide, part of his push will be to appeal to younger people and to minorities – and importantly, to woo more Reds.
That last cohort is crucial to the life of Braver Angels at a local level. Midkiff explains why: “Blues were disappointed that we weren’t getting more Reds,” he says. That, all by itself, sapped the energy of some local groups. Besides working closely with fellow coordinator Warshaw and seeking support from Jill Cook and Paul Witte (BA’s new South Atlantic regional coordinators), Midkiff has been pulling ideas from BA’s Trello board – a rich repository of knowledge – to learn how better to recruit Reds from established groups such as county GOP committees, Young Republicans, Conservative Young Women, and others.
Midkiff got his start with Braver Angels as a moderator. “I’ve done seven workshops – five all-day Red/Blues, one half-day Red/Blue, and one Skills for Bridging the Divide,” he says. But his immediate value to the organization is in raising energy levels across North Carolina’s westerly counties. He’ll have to be patient – there’s a sense that Americans may be relaxing somewhat following tumultuous years in Washington, and as summer vacations shimmer on the horizon.
But for someone with his background – Midkiff was a long-time corporate education and training specialist and has a master’s degree in counseling – patience won’t be a problem.