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we started with a letter...

"Dear Madam/Sir,

Good Morning!  My name is Vivek. I am a biotech professional working for PerkinElmer Inc. a health technology-focused company.  I live in Arlington VA and am deeply involved with my community through volunteerism, serving on our economic development commission and managing outreach for our local Democratic committee.

 

My letter to you comes not as a member of a political party, but as a private citizen and founder of an outreach group known as "Building Bridges."  Our mission is to reach out and develop personal connections -- with diverse individuals and groups and to forge strong and meaningful relationships built on trust, shared values and common ground. As we reach out to communities across Virginia, we are mindful that while we may be miles and cultures apart, we share many of the same values and interests that make our great Commonwealth our cherished home.

 

And, in that capacity and spirit, I would humbly ask if I could come visit with you in ____ County to listen and to learn more about your life and your community. 

 

Just as a bit of background, I would like to share a little about my life-story and my hopes for our meeting one another in the near future. I came to the United States from India more than 18 years ago and have lived in several towns and cities across America – from sea to shining sea.  While spending most of those wonderful and formative years in the mid-West (Indiana and Ohio), I am really pleased to have found my home here in this great Commonwealth of Virginia.

 

One of the reasons I began “Building Bridges” was because, for most of my life I’ve surrounded myself with like-minded people with similar life experiences, and many who tend to agree with my own opinions and politics. I doubt that I’m alone in this thinking, as we have become a deeply divided country -- in which our kindred communities have sadly, stopped talking and reaching out to one another.  I think we both can agree that this election vividly under-scored just how differently we think about our great nation, our values and about each other. Speaking for myself, I feel I could certainly do a better job of reaching out to those who have different life narratives and experiences, and really understand the remarkable mosaic of communities that make our Commonwealth truly special. After all, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others”, Philippians 2:4-8.

 

My hope for “Building Bridges” is that forging long-term bonds within different communities across our state will eventually help us identify community problems -- and, then, to work together collaboratively to find viable (economic, educational, and societal) solutions that are mutually beneficial to serve and support us all. For instance, are their opportunities to work together to create job opportunities that don’t just benefit urban corridors and skilled workers, but broadly stimulate job creation in every corner of our state by creating business innovation, a favorable tax environment and economic development culture here in Virginia.

 

In summary, I would therefore feel very grateful to come visit with you in _______ County and learn more about your life and your community. I would be honored to share a meal with you and spend a day in fellowship and friendship, learning about your lives, your values and your stories. While we may have some differences geographically and politically, I strongly believe that we have so much more that binds us than separates us -- particularly in our love of our country and our desire to care for and protect our families and our cherished Commonwealth.

 

Please let me know if you are open to the idea of my visiting you and, perhaps attending your church (or, even a Republican Party meeting).  And, I would also like to extend the same courtesy to you, if you would be interested in visiting us here in Northern Virginia. Thank you for considering my request. I am very grateful for your time. God bless you, your family and our great nation!

 

Warmly,

Vivek"

outcomes

Since the letter, we've been invited out to visit GOP/Tea Party Leaders in a few counties across Virginia, attended a Tea Party Picnic and dined with conservatives. We've made friends, found ways to have honest dialogue and find common ground.

Bridging Political Divides