Here’s a thought for your 4th of July celebrations

However you decide to celebrate your 4th—fireworks and over-consumption of dairy products and fatty meats will, I confess, likely be part of my day!—I have an idea I’d like to share. 

Although this past year has given us plenty of opportunities to ponder the seeming ferocity of our differences, I’d like to challenge each of us—myself included–to find common ground and do a better job of listening to and not demonizing those we don’t feel share our backgrounds and beliefs.

Did you know that in the 1970s, American Field Service (AFS, the group that created cultural exchange opportunities for students as a way to break down barriers after World War II) used to have a US-based program? Kids from NYC got to discover what it was like to live in a small town in Iowa and vice versa. How cool is that? The program was discontinued in the 1980s but it seems like an idea  worth exploring again today. (Yes, it’s from the WSJ once again—America, Meet America from July 1— and this time I’m not finding other good articles that tie to this. It IS worth tracking down and reading. Try the library?)

I’m trying to take my own small steps in this direction with my coffee dates with Madisonians whose paths I might not typically cross (pop out to my website, caffeineclarity to learn more). Just shoot me an email at if you’d like to join the fun!

(And, in case you’re wondering, the blue and red buckets are, of course, meant to represent the holiday and “liberal” and “conservative” but don’t read anything into bucket size, placement, etc.—they’re just what I had in my basement and I’m simply not that good at visual metaphor!).


Happy 4th!

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Knowledge junkie. Raconteur.

Vicky Franchino

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