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Bridging Divides for Stronger PA Communities

By Keystone State News Connection

Bridging Divides for Stronger PA Communities

Rural or urban, liberal or conservative, everyone benefits when people work together, according to the message and the goal of a new program launching next week.

Uniting for Action: Pennsylvania is a joint initiative of the Free Library of Philadelphia, the PA Project for Civic Engagement and Urban Rural Action, a national nonprofit organization.

Joseph Bubman, founder of Urban Rural Action, says the program will involve participants from a wide range of social, economic, political and community settings. Through monthly, structured online discussions and small group, brainstorming sessions, they’ll collaborate on actions they design themselves.

“Whether it’s hunger or income inequality, or environmental challenges, educational issues, or the political divides and geographic divides themselves,” Bubman explains.

The program is planning future in-person meetings, depending on requirements for social distancing. Information about participating is online at

Bubman points out that his organization was founded by people with experience in international conflict resolution — where bringing people together across divides is necessary to find constructive solutions to common problems.

“This is a collaboration where we may disagree, and that’s OK,” he states. “But let’s work to understand why we disagree, and let’s see if we can’t learn something from one another’s perspectives.”

Bubman adds the goal of that open dialogue is to formulate concrete plans that can bring about real — and positive — change.

“The projects should articulate a theory of change,” he stresses. “They should lay out the activities that people will implement and also, lay out a monitoring and evaluation plan — how are we going to assess the impact of our effort?”

Bubman says the program goes well beyond constructive conversation, to taking joint action to strengthen communities and the country.