When red and blue agree to meet – and not change each other’s minds

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By Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor

The summer heat here scorches Republicans and Democrats with equal ferocity. Jacob’s Well and Blue Hole, two of the best natural swimming holes in the state, are thus fitting landmarks for this small city.

When temperatures and emotions run high, Wimberley, Texas, is where people come to cool off.

Wimberley’s location also reflects its political balance. A short drive from both the rapidly urbanizing Interstate 35 corridor and the rural Hill Country, Wimberley, population 3,000, is as close to 50-50 politically as you can get in America these days, residents say.

But like much of the rest of the country, polarization has seeped into political debates here.

The week before Thanksgiving, two dozen locals gathered at a church for a workshop organized by Braver Angels Central Texas, a local chapter of a national organization working to depolarize America and promote civil discourse.

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This article, however, features speakers across a racial rather than a partisan divide. For this conversation, the white speaker is Cameron Swallow, a Braver Angels leader and local bluegrass musician in Wisconsin. The Black speaker is Austin Willacy, a professional songwriter, musician, and activist near Oakland, California.

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