After the 2016 elections, folks in South Lebanon, Ohio, were shocked. Some began to work on creating organization to help depolarize America, particularly when it came to politics.
From those efforts, a nonprofit group called Better Angels was formed. Cameron Swalve of its Wisconsin Chapter spoke about their work at the Sept. 19 Waunakee Rotary meeting.
Cameron is from Tennessee and has moved to Kenosha. She said many have seen families and friendships divided by politics, and Cameron has personally experienced this. She’s found Better Angels to be a solution.
Some believe that those on the opposite side of the political spectrum are the enemy, while others just see them as deplorable or ignorant. Since Cameron has been involved with Better Angels, she’s been working to have a more open mind and believe that those on the other side have some valid viewpoints.
The Wisconsin Chapter is now building an alliance with members to see how it can participate in public life with speakers, workshops and writing editorials to be published in newspapers.
Minnesota has a strong Better Angels organization, and groups work in subcommittees to draft bipartisan legislation they can take to their state lawmakers to introduce.
Better Angels operates under a rule of balance, allowing equal numbers of Blue and Red voters into each chapter and ensuring that workshops are also equally represented by both sides.
It offers Red/Blue Workshops with strict equal numbers of the two sides. A skills workshop is required for participants, Cameron said, to help people have a constructive rather than polarizing conversation.
Better Angel Debates are new this year and are part of an effort to recruit younger members. The idea is to seek truth, not victory.
The Rotary Four-Way Test has been used in the Better Angel structure, as well.
Constructive dialog is essential in order to solve problems, and unless Red and Blue voters can talk together, no changes can occur, Cameron said.
Rotarian Susan Vergeront is training to become a moderator of the Red/Blue Workshops. Susan, who previously served two terms in the Wisconsin state Legislature, introduced Cameron to the Rotary Club.
Susan served as a Republican when that party was in the minority. Tommy Thompson was governor at the time, and working together, legislators were able to accomplish a lot of bipartisan work then.
“I saw that turn absolutely 180 degrees and it’s passed on to the federal government. It seems like people cannot talk about what they believe politically without being shut down and having uncivil discourse,” Susan said.
Anyone interested in learning more about Better Angels can contact Cameron at or chat with Susan.

Other News:
-Phil Willems reported that the proceeds from beer sales at Wauktoberfest came to more than $30,000, plus more from sales of wine and kettle corn.
-A Learn to Fish workshop was held at the Village Center Pond, where Rotarians have conducted several projects.
Guests: Kylie West, guest of Todd Schmidt; John MicKelson, guest of Bob Pulvermacher; Nirmi and Peter, guests of Phil Willems.  
Visiting Rotarians: Bill Mansfield, Stoughton.
Birthdays: Sept. 30, John Cullen.
 Anniversaries: Sept. 28, Peggy Acker-Farber and Bob Farber; Sept. 29, Alan and Marie Langeteig; Oct. 1, Sara and Paul Whitley.
Programs: Sept. 26, Mark Weller, the art of time stacking; Oct. 3, Tara Swalve, Waunakee Soccer Campaign.
Greeters: Sept. 26, David Dargenio and Allan Dassow; Oct. 3, Lori Derauf and Breck Dokken; Oct. 10, Pat Durden and Fritz Durst.