We the People's Project
A politically and racially diverse group of working-class Americans working together to build a house united in America.
Americans without four-year college degrees represent the vast majority of Americans (65 percent, to be exact).
We are Black, Brown, and White.
We might see ourselves as blue-collar, working-class, or just your everyday American.
We are among the everyday people essential to building America and keeping her running: truck drivers, restaurant workers, electricians, nurses, factory workers, you name it.
But we are often sidelined and stereotyped in the media and in the public conversation. We are often spoken of, but rarely spoken with.
It contributes to a growing partisan divide in America and to distrust in each other. It erodes the possibility of “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” It makes “We the People” seem like an old pipe dream.
That’s why we started We the People’s Project at Braver Angels in April 2021. (Note: we were formerly called, “The Working People’s Project.”)
We are building a working-class coalition of conservatives, progressives, and others, of every race and ethnicity, who are committed to working with each other—rather than against each other—to strengthen our democratic republic.
Our Main Initiative
We the People’s Forum is a place where everyday Americans get time at the podium. In this Forum, held on Zoom, we tell our stories and share our perspectives on the issues of the day. We hear from people of all races, classes, places, and politics. Together, we’re exploring how We the People can build a more perfect union in a divided America.
The format is a a 90-minute, moderated conversation. The conversations typically take place with two speakers, often with differing perspectives. After about 45 minutes of discussion with the speaker(s), there is about 45 minutes of Discussion and Q & A with the audience. During this segment anyone with direct experience on the issue at hand is encouraged to speak up and anyone may ask a question.
The goals of the Forum are the following:
- More understanding of the lived experiences and perspectives of working-class people and other ordinary Americans.
- Find areas of common ground.
- See how a diverse group of We the People can work together to help our country depolarize and build our democratic republic.
- Build the membership, leadership, and visibility of working people within and outside of Braver Angels.
We need to do more than just talk (as valuable as that is). We also want to take action and share the common ground we’re finding with political leaders, the media, and our fellow citizens. We see the conversations that happen at We the People’s Forum as a spark to building Red/Blue/Other relationships and taking action. Here’s how:
First: a We the People’s Forum on a challenge or issue facing our nation, as a way to get the conversation going, and open to a large group of people.
Next: a Braver Angels Common Ground Single Issue Workshop, where a smaller group of citizens with a balance between conservatives and liberals (about 10-16 total), gather for a deep dive into a problem, such as addressing the drug addiction crisis or reducing the influence of money in politics. Together participants talk about their connection to the issue and their opinion on solutions. By the end of the event they have come up with jointly and unanimously held Points of Agreements on values, concerns and policies.
Finally: a Braver Angels Town Hall, where a Red/Blue balanced group of citizens present their common ground findings and proposed solutions to appropriate political leaders.
Upcoming We The People's Forums...
Past We the People’s Forums
Inside America’s Crisis of Belonging
Featuring Richard Washington, a formerly incarcerated man, and Mariah Prows, a formerly homeless woman recovering from drug addiction, on what is at the root of America’s most intimate crises.
When Polarization Comes For The Janitor
Featuring Mark Patenaude, a janitor at Smith College who resigned after false accusations of racism by a student and who was quoted in a prominent New York Times story about the incident. In his first-ever full-length public interview, Mark sits down with Braver Angels to fully share his story and perspectives.
A Citizen’s Proposal to Get Money Out of Politics
Featuring a retired Marine and Tea Party leader and a retired teacher and Democratic activist.
The Peoples’ Turn to Speak:
A conversation about We the People’s Project with David Lapp, Director of We the People’s Project, and Wilk Wilkinson, member of the leadership team and host of the Derate the Hate Podcast.
Who We Are
Our work is driven by a leadership team whose occupations and backgrounds reflect our working-class spirit. True to the Braver Angels emphasis on red/blue balance, we include a balance of people who lean Red, Blue, and Other.
- Wilk Wilkinson of Clearwater, Minnesota, is the founder and host of the Derate the Hate Podcast and distribution manager for a welding supplies and gas distributor.
- Apple Muncy of Bloomington, Indiana, is a retired tool and die maker.
- Annette Ritter of Little Orleans, Maryland, is a Human Services and Addiction Counseling student, and member of the UA4 MD team through the Allegany College of Maryland.
- Corrie Zech of Middletown, Ohio, is a former McDonald’s employee of 13 years and is currently attending college for Health Information Management.
- Darcy Crosman of El Sobrante, California, is a retired union pipe welder and a freelance editor.
- David Lapp of South Lebanon, Ohio, is a co-founder of Braver Angels and director of We the People’s Project.
- Janelle Burke of Everett, Washington, is a former nurse and school board candidate; the founder
and editor of WakeUpSnoCo; and co-founder of Embrace. Reclaim. Heal – Because We Care, a community outreach organization dedicated to healing in the Black community and for U.S. veterans.
- Jeff Metcalfe of Arroyo Grande, California, is a retired OTR truck driver.
- Mariah Prows of Lebanon, Ohio, is a factory worker and a recovering addict with a dream for building an America that better helps people recover from addiction.
- Rita Chisum of Russelville, Arkansas, has been continuing the “Great Adventure” of marriage–with all its ups and downs–for the past 41 years, is a mother of two daughters and “Nonna” (Italian for Grandmother) of five, 6+ years retail experience, office assistant/manager, community volunteer, freelance writer and lifelong wisdom seeker.