Katherine Cramer: Listening to Strengthen Democracy

Katherine Cramer: Listening to Strengthen Democracy


I’m Tom Ivacko with the State & Urban Policy. It’s better known as CLOSUP, one of the research centers here at the Ford School. It’s my pleasure to introduce today’s speaker. I’m going to start with a few notes about the fornat of our event. We have time at the end for questions. Please write your questions on the index cards that have been handed out. If you need another one flag down Bonnie here and We’ll keep an eye out and We’ll collect those starting at about 4:30 or so. For those of us joining online, please tweet your questions using the hash tag policy talks and We’ll transcribe those on the cards here ourselves. Joining us to present the questions is the students. First it Richardson and lily Alexander. They will ask the questions to our speaker today and will be assisted by a university of Michigan student Michael wolf who will be assisted by Sarah mills our — our senior project manager. Sarah has been leading an effort on campus to bring together faculty, staff and students from across the campus to look at issues across the urban rural divide. They take particular approaching looking more along a spectrum as opposed to conceiving them as across a divide. So we close our event today with a couple of notes about a following event. Finally I like to thank Bonnie Roberts, our events manager for pulling together for you today, great job, thank you Bonnie. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Today’s talk is about listening to strength in democracy. It is sponsored by close-up and the Ford school. As part of the initiative of differences. I think we feel the strain that our country is under, trib tribalism plaguing our politics. The Ford school is committed to playing a leading role in public discourse that is nonpartisan and evidence based and inclusive. We host public events that model reason and evidence based debate and to explore issues around identity and difference. We developed new student programming and curriculum to train our students in how to bridge difference, productively discuss contested topics and negotiate. We practice trust building through a problem solving and — and procedural noev va — innovation and learning and solving problems aCcross differences. We generate diversity. The school has a deep mission driven commitment to the values of scholarship, respectful dialogue and inclusive community. Our graduate and under graduate students, we help them to make progress on difficult problems through constructive dialogue and action across divides. So today’s talk by Kathy Cramer is a perfect fit. We’re proud to announce she earned her Ph.D. and she’s the anatomy chair and professor at Wisconsin Madison and senior adv advisor at cortico
to foster public discourse among the public but with also among the media to help us develop a better understanding of one another. Sheil talk about some of this work today. Kathy’s work focuses on the way that people in the United States make sense of our politics and their place in it. She’s award winning author and known for an innovative approach to the study of public opinion in which she introduces herself in to conversations — of groups of people to listen and — and get a better understanding of how they make sense of public issues. She’s author of “policies of resentment” makes sense of this approach. So rather than take any more time from Kathy’s talk you could read more of her really impressive bio in your program. Please join me in welcoming Kathy Kramer. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Thank you so much. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for having me. Bonnie Roberts, thank you so much for all of the logistics. She’s sort of amazing person and if you need Bonnie and organization in your life, talk to her. I’ve only been here a few hours but had a fabulous visit. Thank you so much. Thank you Tom and Sarah, thank you. Yes, I am a proud graduate of the political science program here at Michigan and I want to give out a shout out to Don kinder who I see in the room, a dear friend that taught me the value of studying the things you care most about in the world. You’ll see in short order I’m going to tell a series of stories. You’ll see in short order that I was very fortunate to — to study political science here because it was an environment in which I learned all of the cutting edge skills and I also learned ideas of pursuing ideas I care about and important to the world and the methods by which I did that were less important than studying important things and I owe a lot of that, the courage to do that to Don who supported me from very early on. So, let me tell you stories. When I was a college graduate student here, I was fortunate to get involved with Kent Jennings who recently retired from the university of California Santa Barbara. He had been engage in a study of political socialization. In the 1997 I was involved with that pro project. It was a study of high school seniors in 1965 and they were followed over the course of their life. Part of my job was to interview these folks in rural areas of the deep south. So I was doing — basically a survey, a laptop based survey in people’s homes, asking them questions like this. This is a famous Michigan question about identity. Generally do you consider yourself a Democrat or republican or what? Republican, democratic or what? People record the answers. At the time a lot was do not on paper and you had to fill out the paperwork and send it back to the institute here or the survey research center. I was spending a lot of time in post offices. So places like this, mailing these things back and rural areas, post offices are important hub of the community. Most people have post office boxes and they stop in about once a day, maybe it changed over time as surface mail becomes less a part of their lives, they stop in and get the news and move on. I was interested in the conversations I was encountering in those places as well as the conversations I was having with these survey respondents after the survey was over. From pretty early on in my life as a political scientist, I knew I was interested in conversation. I knew I picked up a lot about their lives and about the way they understood politics from listening to them talk with one another. So again I owe a lot of credit to this university saying yes, that’s interesting and we support glou studying it in whatever way you think is useful. So fast forward a bit. Across the course of my career this is basically the question I’ve been pursuing, how do people understand their world? And what is behind this is this recognition by many of us that you can expose people, two different people, to the same message, the same speech and campaign ad and they will come away with two different readings on it, two different interpretations. They’ll see different things here. What is that? How does that happen? It happens because we all have different lenses that we see the world and filter things and process them. I have found just in different ways I’ve been pursuing this question. I found it much more rewarding than than question which is basically how could people be so stupid? How could people vote against their interests? What is wrong with them. I like to ask not what are people getting wrong but how are they getting it. I just earned tenure at the University of Wisconsin. I told myself you can understand why social class identities matter. So this was Wisconsin, a bying background here. The blue areas are more urban areas. What is I did, I was interested in this. Bui areas are more you are urb I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. We’re on the short end of the stick in three main ways, lots of ways that I I can’t characterize them. One of this all of the decisions that effect our lives are made in Madison or Milwaukee which are the two natural areas in the state, the only two and communicated out to us. We don’t — people don’t come out here and ask us what we think. We’re told what the rules are going to be. So we — we’re on the short end of the stick in teams of power basically and political power and decision-making power. We’re on the short end of the stick in terms of resources. You know all of our taxpayer dollars get sucked in and spent on Madison and Milwaukee and we don’t see that money in return. We’re also on the short end of the stick in terms of respect. You all making the decisions down there, you don’t know us. You don’t know what life is like in a place like this. You don’t like us. You don’t respect us. You think we’re racist and sexist and homophobic and Islam phobic. That came out. That’s sobering. I think it is important. But as a political scientist it seemed to me politically really important. This is a set of sentiments that a savvy politician might tap into, right, in the following ways. It has many layers to it. You may have heard some already just the way I’m explaining it, it is resentment toward city and city people and also toward elites and one political party more than another, perhaps increasingly so since the time I was in the field in early 2007. And it is also racism and resentment against minorities. Wisconsin you may be familiar with this is very segregated Richellely. When people talk about the cities, oftentimes it is also a conversation about race. Th They can activate a component of this and so potentially is powerful. It sets the stage for divisive messages that clears out to people who is us and who is them. People are like we’re working hard to make ends meet. We’re good, hard working Americans and it seems to us that our hard earned money is going to — to support people who — who — who aren’t as deserving, aren’t as hard working whether it be you, Kathy, you’re a full-time professor down at university of Wisconsin Madison. What are you doing driving around the state and having coffee with us? How is that hard work? Sometimes they would say when do you take a shower? I say before I go to work. Exactly they would say, I work so hard that the first thing I do when I get home is take a shower. They would have — they said there hard workers and those that sit behind desks. They thought a lot of their money was going to pay for people like me. That’s one example because sometimes the deservingness was racialized, they would have a stereotype of a welfare recipient, someone that doesn’t deserve the public benefits. Another way this was very ripe ground for — for a politician to tap into is that it sets the stage for someone to say, yeah, let’s have less government. People would look around at their communities and say whatever government is doing, it is not working for us. It is not working people in places like us. It is not working for people like us. There’s a sense that — that — that government folks were people that didn’t respect people in the smaller communities. There’s a sentence that it was an urban thing. Even for public employee living in the community for example, postschool educators and people would sometimes say things like, look, yeah, I know, he’s lived there the last 25 years, but the testing, the decisions about curriculum, all of that stuff is decided by you all down in Madison, in the by people here and whether or not that’s true, that was perception that public employees the way they do their jobs were good urban values and urban decisions. So Lo and behold, Scott walker comes on the scene. Mind you, he was Milwaukee county executive. He ran for governor and won. Shortly after he took office, he proposed a piece of legislation known as act 10 Wisconsin. It was a budget addendum. It was a budget repair ir bill that would undercut public employee unions to organize and bargain. And also it required public employees to pay in more of their pay checks for pensions and healthcare benefits. This picture is a reaction in Madison, how people were around the state capital in Madison. It seemed to be the most unpopular legislation ever proposed in the state. But 20, 25 miles outside of the city, the conversation, the behavior was very different. Instead people were saying thing, not like let’s impeach the guy, but it is about time. It is about time someone came along and made those people pay in more — more to the pot. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. That was all very sobering for those of us in Wisconsin and those of everybody watching from other parts of the country. Then the 2016 presidential election took place. Right? People started wondering wow, what is going on in rural Wisconsin? Those of you watching election crosses and you realize will be the next president and Wisconsin is in the middle of the night the last state to clinch the election for Trump. It seemed quickly that whatever was happening in Wisconsin had some parallels to other parts of the country as well. And Donald Trump is a very different politician than Scott walker. In his own way, he was saying to people, you were right to be so upset. You are doing things as you should, you are hard working. You’re a good American. What you deserve is going to other people or those people. And for Scott walker, the target of blame was basically public employees. That wasn’t necessarily Donald Trump’s blame he said he was pointing the finger at immigrants and uppity women and liberal elites and such. In ways they were playing into the same set of sentiment. Now I don’t want to convey that it was — it was rural Wisconsin, rural Wisconsin, rural Americans who — who were the — the kind of — the kind of — of — of pivotal population group in the election of 2016. But they were important to the outcome of the election. And my goodness, they received a lot of attention since then. Right? One thing that happened to me, this — and personally, I thought I was — was starting a corner of the world that I cared a lot about. Election — that election changed my life pretty much overnight in terms of who was asking me to share my knowledge and — asking me to commenTate on the world around me. One of my favorite stories, as returns came in in 2016, I turned to my daughter who is 12 and I said I think we should go home. I think I’m going to be busy tomorrow. And I’m checking my e-mail before we went to bed and there’s an e-mail from the “New York Times” saying, hi, we’re the “New York Times”, we think we know something, can we talk to you tomorrow? That was the start of a lot of people saying what the heck is going on in Wisconsin and what can you — can you help us understand about rural America? Part of what happened was many people around the country and around the world, but primarily from the United States wrote messages to me, primarily by e-mail saying — sometimes asking questions but more often than the no expressing things to me. They heard me speak or read something that I wrote and — and felt compelled to tell me what was on their minds. I’m turning to those messages next to help — to help — to help convey the importance of perspective. I think what I learned from — from doing this work is that — is that listening, taking the — having the luxury of taking the time to go into people and sitting down with them and listening to the way they talked about politics opened my eyes to all kind of things that I hadn’t even thought I — I had been looking for. One thing in particular, you know, the — the way that people were turning to me and saying can you help me explain taught me that we really don’t know much about the perspectives that people are using to think about politics in rural America but in many different parts of our society. It is not just rural Americans that are feeling as though they’re unheard and not unseen or they’re overlooked or disrespected. Many people express those sentiments. As a social scientist or political observer we’re often asking the question, how can people do that? There’s part of you us that wants to know more. How are they understanding the world? It helps to listen to people to talk to people in their own lives to get a better sense of that. It also taught me that there’s more to know about political — people’s political beliefs and partisanship, because I would ask people, so tell me which party best represents the interests of the people around here. Almost always they would say, neither party. None of them are paying attention to us. Their attachment to the parties was much more complicated than leaning towards republican or Democrat but it — it was intertwined with the sense of — of where — where some of the parties — it helped to listen to them to talk about the parts to understand that. I want to know one thing I think these conversations did for me was to see the complexity of the way, when people are talking about those people and who is observing that — economics and racism and cultural anxiety and whatever you want to call it are intertwined in the way people are perceiving candidates and policy. I turn now to the letters to dive into these letters more. I want to share with you some of the words that I received but I think these are all from e-mail from people who were — were — were reading stuff I wrote and hearing things and responding to the people I had been studying. Primarily the people we assume voted for Trump in the election. They say things like, you know, I don’t know what they’re paying attention to. But this seems to be from another universe. They would say things like, don’t they get that they’re getting going and support too. That they’re getting government benefits themselves and how is it that they want to undercut government and why Scott walker and why smaller government. Sometimes they would say things likes — they have the opportunity to move. They can move to where the jobs are. The people in the communities are people that are left behind and wallowing in their own resentment. Harsh, right? What is harsh and troubling to me is all of that stuff sounds so much like the comments that I heard Trump supporters saying about who we presume to be Clinton supporters. I want to share those with you. Sorry to make you even more depressed. For example, I would hear oftentimes, or Democrats they cannot decide can for themselves. They being fooled and hoodwinked. One guy saying, this Democrat said he basically even if Hitler he would vote for him just because he’s a Democrat. They can’t make their own choices. Here’s another set of things. They would say things like, you know, not just based on par partisan, they just vote for Barack Obama because he’s black or Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman. Or they only vote for Democrats because they’re on a government program and want the money to continue. They would say they’re hypocritical. Oftentimes this comes up when I go back after the 2016 campaign to some groups and say — it would come up the way before the gain who did I vote for? I would say Hillary Clinton. I would say why? I would say I saw the videotape and access video and I have a daughter. What about bill Clinton? They criticize Trump for things they don’t criticize their own people. Another thing that would come up is just the — the perception of Democrats being intolerant. So this person is talking about, you try to have a conversation with them, they won’t listen to you. Okay. Now I thoroughly depressed you. What is troubling is there’s energy being spent on what is wrong with each other, what needs to be fixed in those people, while we’re focusing on the flaws of each other as opposed to focusing on the things that are more fundamentally wrong. Why is it that our attention is drawn to — to what is wrong with each other. Why is that the conversation? And what happens is that we get so frustrated with one another, right? We think that — that the problem is those people and clearly they’re not paying attention to the right news on any information that you give them will not change their minds so it is hopeless. We throw up or hands and turn away and we don’t engage and don’t get involved. The result is that the policies that are getting us to these places whether we’re talking about economic policy or otherwise continue. So the people in power have the ability to continue passing legislation that actually isn’t helping the people who are complaining about the state of affairs. I’m wondering these days, is the question, what is wrong with these people or those people? Or instead, should we be asking what is wrong with our overall system? What is wrong with the democracy that we’re in the state of affairs that we’re in? We can ask, so what is it that with need or probably a question that is more familiar to a lot of you, a question I’ve been asking myself since the campaign is what is it that I should be doing with my talents at this point in time? Given our state of affairs, what do I do to contribute to a solution. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. One thing I’ve been working on since early 2017. This is a project that I’ve been working on with a colleague of a dear friend, he’s a director of the lab called the laboratory for social machines. They create a nonprofit organization called cortico which helps them deploy what they invent. I’ve been in the lab. It is a group of designers and computer engineers and analogy language processing people and machine learning folks. What we came up with is basically our answer to how do we scale up the listening that I did in Wisconsin on a national scale, perhaps international, We’ll see how it goes. But this is where a conversation we started along this recognition that the way in which we communicate with each other, whether we’re talking social media and traditional immediate yeah, typically it is loud and shallow and divisive and reactive and it is just not nuanced and it is often disconnected from the things that we’re — that we care about and are in our every day lives. If you go to a friend and say, what are your biggest concerns these days? More often than not it is thought going to be the stuff that is getting talked about in the news but instead it is jobs and paying off your school loans and healthcare, maybe the environment. What we’re aiming for is a kind of communication in which we lift up the voices of the people who are under heard. People that don’t fool listened to. People that feel they’re overlooked and disrespected or ignored. Communication that is more nuanced as opposed to putting us in boxes in corners. Instead it enables to see the complexity of each other’s views and not SisiSisimply say he’s one of them. He’s more grounded in our every day concerns. So we came up with a thing that we call the local voices network. It is to foster constructive conversations that help us each other. We’re aiming for simply a way in which we can listen to one another and understand the per spktives of people who are unlike us or don’t live near us or that we haven’t had interaction with. We have grounded our work in these five values. We keep these front and center in our design decisions. The first one is we’re trying to get people to talk about their stories and their personal experiences as opposed to their bullet points. We want people to come into a conversation and share their lives rather than their arguments. I’m understanding that it is — it is — when you have the opportunity to hear other people stories that you can actually understand their lives better. Another way of putting it is if you bring people into a conversation and say, we’re going to have a conversation about climate change, people are going to show up with their — their points in mind, their bullet points, their arguments in mind. As soon as you sit down in that conversation and people start to talk, you will though who is on which side of what. And more likely than not your defenses are going to go up. You won’t hear. You won’t actually listen to what other people have to say. We’re trying to foster people talking about their stories. We’re also trying to engage as many different types of people as possible primarily for the purpose again of lifting up the voices of people that are not normally heard and also called public conversation project. We’re grounding our work in their particular communities in which we’re trying out the local voices network so — so every place we are we are working with the community asking them what is it you want to the communication to look like? How do you think this should should work here and tailoring to each community as we go? We’re trying to be as transparent as possible, where the data is going, because we’re merging people and technology here. And that hasn’t gone so well in many aspects. Finally we want it to matter. We hope to have measurable impact. These are the key things we’re focusing on as we keep these values front and center and create a new public conversation that we’re — again, we’re trying to lift up the voices of people who are not normally heard and we’re trying to get people to listen and learn. You could see affinity for the work you’re doing here. And again, we’re trying to get people to share their own stories, their personal concerns. So we call the public conversation network because at the core our small group conversations much like the kind I was encountering in gas stations and designer where we’re aiming for about six people to be led in a conversation by a facilitator, all of these folks are volunteers from the community, and it is public that — that the conversations are recorded. Everyone knows they’re recorded. They know they’re going to be recorded from the moment they volunteer to participate. And the conversations are shared across the community and neighborhoods in the community and space. This is possible through what they have invented. It is a scalable technology platform that is tech lingo, not so familiar to me, meaning this. They invented a thing called a digital hearth. It is size of a hug. What is inside eight microphones, raspberry pie and computer and enables this thing to communicate with the controller which I’ll show you as well as a speaker. During the conversation which is open-ended and yet structured which I’ll say a lot about in a minute, the facilitator can say, I talked about affordable housing. Imagine there’s other people in the room with us. Let’s play this from Paco, Wisconsin and people are talking about affordable housing and once you hear the conversation we can reflect together and through this thing we can bring in voices from other people who these folks may not have encountered before. Here it what it looks like. We put it in a box so it doesn’t feel like a phone during can a conversation. These are the principles that guide the script and the guide that the host uses to guide the information, but basically the conversation goes like this. Share your first name, tell us the value that is important to you and that is related to why you’re here today. Tell us a story from your background that helps us understand the person you’ve become. Tell us what do you love about living here? And then what are are you concerned about in this community and then let’s listen to a voice from another place. And then what do you wish would be different five years from now? What do you wish they knew about your life? Finally what is one thing you’re going to be taking away from the conversation? Simple questions that so far have sparked some thoughtful conversations and — and about a wide variety of — of issues. So we’re not telling people what to talk about. Part of the idea is people — people have the power to — to set the agenda, to say what is important in their communities. So it is community power to understanding and it is benefit driven and it is in particular geographies. We started in Madison. This is a group of people training to be facilitators in Madison. You see the hearth at work here. We’re working with the library and they’re a huge part of the local voices network. These hearts live in the libraries meaning that’s where they get recharged and that’s where the data gets uploaded to a cloud. Also, they help us do recruiting. But importantly and by design, these things can go anywhere, so librarians taught us early on if you want to engage a wide variety of people you need to go through them, right, which I think I learned as well that if you really want to listen to people and understand how they think about their community, you need to go to where they are in the course of their every day lives. These things are portable and go to where people are and they come back. Here’s — here’s shots from the library and they’re — they’re tagging it and circulate with the books. Here’s very first hearth checkout by a host that owns a pancake restaurant. Went back to the restaurant and had a conversation and to the — to the much chagrin of the engineers placed a cup on top of it. Okay. So all of this data, then what? Part of the idea is people encounter the speaker playing parts of the conversation but also there’s a great web interface that if you’re a participate, you can log on and hear and see your own conversation but also hear and see the conversations of other people and — and you can easily search through and find conversations about a particular topic. This is going to give you a quick overview of what the website looks like. This is the website for Madison. When you open it up, there’s a map and the bar shows you where conversations have taken place and how many. Along the side, snippets of different conversations. Dive into one particular conversation here is that the blue spot is — is where it took place. When you open up a given conversation, there’s a — there’s a — a bar that shows up that shows you who has participated along the left here. And then across the top are key words that pop up. It is showing you what is getting talked about where in the conversation. You could see that’s where shooting was mentioned. That’s where school district is mentioned, the suppreme court and immigration. Highlights by volunteers as well and people are fascinated by the conversations. You click on one part and hear it. I don’t have the audio linked to this right now. As it plays it highlights the words that are being said so you can follow along visually pretty easily as well as hear the person’s voice, let’s see you the full transcript and read through and again at any point what you want to hear the person saying you’ll click on it and they’ll play the transcript. It is all — it is all by — you know, it is all an experiment and — and we are — we are improving things as we go. On that I was shog you we now expanded to Boston, New York City, Birmingham, Alabama, which is just starting up, so there aren’t conversations up on the website and as well as as apple ton in Wisconsin. And peck. Peck is a smaller community. What we’re showing you is a topic index that went up maybe a few weeks ago that is the result of — of me highlighting parts of a conversation saying, these are conversations about education, and then the machine learning folks teaching, teaching the machines to look for more conversations about education and now you can go into the page and say I want to see conversations about the environment, show them to me. They’ll pop up. In other words there’s much more to say here. It is an awesome tool for being able to search through the conversations and — and now, what we’re working on is how do you meld the human ability to interpret conversational data along with a capability of machines. We have a long way to go. It is my hope that we can find a way to go from post-notes to using machines to be able to understand conversations about politics on a larger scale than I was able to go in my Volkswagen or Prius. Media outlets are amplifying these conversations. It is one thing for a volunteer to log in and listen. It is another for the local media to say hey, look, a lot of people seem to talk about policing in schools. What are they saying? And let me as a journalist follow up with that and have a more in-depth interview to understand what is going on this that person’s life or their son or daughter’s life for example. This is one example of — of — of an outlet that we’re partnering with in Madison and then these are others that we’re working with around the country. So the ultimate hope is that at one point in time there will be one of these crazy digital hearts in every library. There’s 17,000 of them around the country. So we have a ways to go. So far so good. I like you are hoping there’s ways — we need to be creative about how we listen, we need to be creative, and this I hope is one contribution for your attention and I really am looking forward to your questions. So thank you to the students. [Applause] I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Thank you, Dr. Cramer for your policy talk. I’m a first year masters student here at the north Michigan. How much of the world is administered by media versus more authentic sources like grass roots sources? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. I don’t know is the honest answer. Probably a good bit of it. It is hard to tell. I — I — for — for — for the work with my book I worked with and Dave lawson and we did a content analysis of local newspapers across the state going back to the 50s to try to get some sense of — of — of was this a kind of sentiment in the local news coverage. Is there a way that we could see it in local news and we really couldn’t at all. That’s not to say it is not part of the media. I think — I think — sentiments like this are — are a part of — of political cultures which come from so plane different things. It is what we say to each other and as well as what we pick up from — from news and popular culture and movies and music and such. It is hard to attribute it. It is hard to quantify how much comes from the media. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Good question. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. I’m Marie Alexander. I’m with a club on campus to increase dialogue. With township governments there’s talk of consolidating into fewer larger units but is there a benefit to having smaller government units closer to the people in rural areas? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Great question. That’s a difficult tradeoff. There’s a benefit for people having government close to them so they know who to contact if and when they have a grievance or an issue that they want attention on. Yet, so many of our local governments are so strapped for resources that consolidating up and just some respects makes sense economically but if we’re just talking about — about — about — about — about the sentiment of feeling heard, getting rid of the local governments does seem a bit dangerous. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. The next question is do survey questions that ask if you’re a republican or Democrat get it wrong? Is that just too simple? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. That’s a good question. I wouldn’t say it is wrong. Just — it is a partial answer. Right? That — that — that — I imagine many of you in the room, if you were asked a question, if you’re a republican or 0 Democrat or independent or what could pick one pretty easily? Yet there’s more you want to say about yourself, right? Yeah, I’m a Democrat but blah blah blah. It is — it is — it is just incomplete answer, it doesn’t — it is not the whole answer. Yet, you know, that question continues to be very powerful for predicting how people are going to vote or how they will stand on certain issues. It is a very efficient a question for many decades now. There’s also — there’s more to learn about people’s leanings towards the parties. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. If rural American radio and cable are owned by chosely monitored groups how can we change this information? That’s a great question. We clearly need ways of communicating and — and learning about — about the world around us in which the — the incentive that — and the divisiveness is not profitable. I don’t think we yet discovered what those ways of communicating are. For time we thought social media was going to enable that and that hasn’t really been a great answer. That’s another. I don’t know. I wish I knew the answer. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. You talk about getting people to share their stories and communities, how do you plan to extend these discussings across communities? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Yes. So one way is just do this what we call cross-pollination of having for example say, a group of people in the Bronx. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Why use resentment in the title? It is a strong word. Why not the politics, quote, one down, end quote? I don’t get the new title. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. [Indiscernible]. Well, good question. It is a question that got a lot of — after the 2016 election and so after 2016 election I felt compelled to go back to many of these groups. I wanted to know, I too wanted to know what they were saying right. Part of the reason I was going back even before the election happened was I wanted to give all of them a copy or so of the book. And so I started to say, don’t hurt my feelings, don’t feel like you’re going to hurt my feelings? How do you feel about the title of the book? Tell me, really. You have to take it with a grain of Sault, they tell me they don’t like the title. Often what would happen is people would — would — they wouldn’t say anything and they would sit this and pause and they would say what do you mean? Well, do you — do you — you know, how does it sit with you? How do you feel about the title? They would say, you know, we resent that. I’m like, yeah. We resent this. I don’t have a problem with the title. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. The way to the presidency is through rural Wisconsin voters, what are the rural people from Wisconsin saying about the democratic candidates? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. I don’t know. To answer. I’ve been creating the local voices network and a different project that — that — so I haven’t been back to the communities, not really since the candidates were up and running and — and — and people have known about them. So I don’t know. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. How far back do you think the politics of resentment go? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. A long time. So you know, could go to ancient Greece. Like, you could say on one-hand, there’s — humans created anything like a city. There’s been this — this rural urban thing going on, but — but to not so be flippant about it. I would say since — I would say since the late 60s early 70s, or the mix of social movements and — and changes in our economy that — that mix of things that is both — both — resulted in a downturn this the economy and also this — this sort of cultural backlash against many of the civil rights movements action that mix of things have been fuel for the kind of sentiments that I heard in the rural communities. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. How have you accounted for the identity as a white woman in having conversations with rural Americans? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Great question. I mean — this this kind of work, you always have to be mindful — let me put it this way, in this line of work, you shouldn’t fool yourself that your presence, you can do something to make your presence not matter. Right? I’m not just — I’m not just a thermometer going into a community and taking the temperature. I’m a human being entering into relationships with people. As with any relationship, like who you are or appear to be in the world influences how that person is going to respond to you. So I guess the answer is I think about it a lot. I ask myself would this have been a different conversation had I been a different person? I try to be attentive to that. I won’t know for sure what it would sound like or looked like had I been a different person. There — there — there are certain people in the world, we’re constantly making those assessments. My position in the society as a such and such, how is that impacting the — the interaction I just had? Or the opportunity I just had. The discrimination I felt. I try to think about it at lot and report about it when I report the research when I believe it is relevant to what people said. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. As populations are more transient young folks moving more and having less stable jobs, how will place identity shift? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Great question. I don’t know for sure. But there’s been some really interesting research around language and dialects that suggests to me that itemity is going to be more important at least in the near term. Research I’m referring to is based on German dialects and those who are specialists in linguistics may hear in your own voice. It was spurred by the commun communication. Feeling like you’re of a community and there’s a human — there’s a human drive for that. So I don’t — I don’t know. I think place identity will be important, at least in the short-term. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. After doing research for years, were you surprised as many of us about the outcome of the 2016 election? Absolutely. I — I — I got my Ph.D. at Michigan. I believe in research and that they can — give us — give us at least a snapshot of a moment in time. So yeah. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. People want to be heard, but do you think they want to listen? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Great question. Yeah. Yes and no, right? Like, no I think honestly the quick answer, this moment in time no people don’t want to listen. How many of you just in the room. Don’t put up your hand, you’ll make me feel bad. As you’re talking, you’re thinking, this listening thing, I’m so done with people telling me to listen. Like the last thing I want to do is listen. corner. That’s the last thing we need. We do not have time, we need to defeat them. I’m in the about listening. I’m about organizing and figuring out how to bring them down. That’s more common sentiment, which is why I feel a need to be a listening evangelist. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Are [Indiscernible] the biggest divide — are the elite the biggest divide in America? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. No. If we to choose one, I would say that — and it is not — it is not a clean cut divide, I would say that the racial divide, divides in our country are — is probably this — the most profound but it is hard to know how to separate that from geography from economics. If I had to pick one I would say race. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. The tax dollars from urban areas or rural areas, the [Indiscernible] disproportionate influence. The story from rural folks is just not the truth. Those [Indiscernible] we don’t know where this is coming from, so what is the driver for their false narratives? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Just give me a moment. Okay. I hear what you’re saying and yes, you’re right, but I want to show you pieces of data that will hopefully complicate your view. So this is an outdated draft, this is recovery from the recession. If you’re a rural person you may not see this chart but you may look around you and say there’s no jobs around here. They’re telling me the recession is over. There’s been a recovery. Where? This is broadband across the country. The orange spots is where it is like, used to in Ann Arbor where you could do business and online learning and do anything basically. The blue parts are where, it is kind of hard. Very hard. This — we have graphs from my book and I’m going to zoom through a quick — quickly here’s. state of Wisconsin. What I’m plotting here is the taxpayer money that goes to each county and what you can see here is — it is — it is not the case that rural counties are disadvantaged so the further you are on the side of the dot, the more rural you are. It is also not the case that — that rural counties are — are disadvantaged in terms of federal aid. If anything they’re getting more and that’s the question. This is the stuff that that they’re referring to. When you look on per capita basis, rural counties in Wisconsin in particular, and thought — not anymore than other states, but we’re talking about the people I was listening to, they’re not right, right? There’s more money going to rural folks. I’m going by here a little bit. If you look at median household income in a rural county, it is lower. If you look at who — who — the percentage of people living below the Bopoverty line it is higher and if you look at unemployment it is higher in the rural counties. They say they don’t know what they’re talking about, they’ll be fooled. But you can also say, they don’t see those charts. They don’t know the per capita amount of — of — of — of taxpayer dollars that are coming back to them. What they see is like the conditions around them and they hear who — who is not — not able to — to — you know get dental care or who just lost a job. So is the perception that they’re worse off than the urban areas incorrect? I don’t think it is an easy answer. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. How do you think the people that you met to do research in Wisconsin feel about the title of your book? Do you think they see themselves as resentful? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Yes. With the Dom innings of the two-party system and issues of identifying we they are party what is the solution. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Boy. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. I came up with this question. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. If I had the solution. I don’t know. If I had the solution, would it matter? What a hopeless thing to say. It is one thing to have the solution, it is another to have the political power to change thing. Right? So we know gerrymandering may be part of the issue and you know, you’re in a different context here than many other states in the country, where your voters had a chance to say something different. It is not possible to implement the solution even. Yeah. You know it may help. So. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. We got a couple of questions about Henry Wallace and agricultural extension in the 1930s. How do you think that factors in what we’re seeing today. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Extension, I think extension is immensely valuable. Because when you think about the universities in particular and — and — and in my book I write quite a bit about a University of Wisconsin man soutsending t the sentiment, you didn’t listen, our kids can’t get in, when they do you don’t understand them. A way to remedy that is to have people of the university in the communities living with them, interacting with them, knowing those folks and then getting you know creating relationships which is an extension. And when I started my study I learned thankfully that — that our extension educators around the state are — are people with — with — with — with very deep knowledge of the communities that they serve. It was often extension office I was calling to say, where in such and such Wisconsin do people go on a daily basis to visit with one another to shoot the breeze? That community rooted daily life information that the extension folks know. It is an extremely valuable part of a university, not just in terms of P.R. and not so it looks like we’re involved in the communities at our state — our universities serve. But so we can actually learn and hear what it going on out there in the world in these places. We can discover what their concerns are are and hopefully, not only improve our research but improve our ability to really to the students who come and learn from us. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Was there a learning curve with your survey technology? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. It is — since they’re saying technology, I wonder if they’re refusing to the — to the digital hearth. There’s — yeah, it is a constant learning curve and thankfully it is — it is — so I’m learning that this team of engineers and by their nature they are — they — they’re used to and trained in creating things, like putting together as much knowledge as possible to create something and deploy it and then carefully attending to the feedback and then reviving it. It has been an awesome experience. It is a different kind of learning from anywhere. It usually, in my previous work, I work on something and polish it as much as possible and then put it out there in the world. Put it out there as soon as you can and we can learn and improve it. It is a constant learning curve. I don’t know if it is steep, it feels steep. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. What is the demographic of voices you’re getting? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. It will depend on the community. In Madison the typical participant is as you might expect. White, middle class, relatively educated person. There’s a wide variety. There’s about — about — about percent of our facilitators are people of color. Most people are — are — mostly facilitators are upper income. The participants it is a little hard to say because we have not yet started collecting demographic information on people. By choice, we the philosophy behind the local network voices we want people to see the nuance in each other. We have not. We’ve been reluctant to ask people, we want you to see and hear nuance in each other. Could you put yourself in — in some boxes for us so that we can — we can better you know, make sense of the data? So we’re trying to figure out a way to give people a lot of leeway in describing who they are to us. Yet capturing information on who the participants are. So — so we think that we’re — we’re capturing — engaging a live range of people but I don’t have the numbers to share with what I mean on that. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. The technology and the potentials are neat. Could it be alienating and limits in terms of the way people use it? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Yeah. It is weird. So many people wary of technology and especially when we say this — this — these things are recording what you’re saying, right? Many people who are wary of participating in that. So we — we are. That’s the driver of trying to be as transparent as possible. Trying to make it clear to people where the data going and how we’re protecting it, what the purpose is. And we — we recognize — I mean it is like good community organizing I guess in that it is — it is — it is understand that it is about relationship building and about people getting to know what the local voices network is and having experience in it and developing trust over time as they see what we do with it and what the local journalists do with it. Hopefully what — what local policy makers, what — the good use that they can — this can put it to. So I hear — I hear you. Another thing, though, I’m surprised with just how much people do want their voices heard and recorded. So on the other hand, there are many people who say, if my voice is going to be heard, yes, you need technology to amplify it. I’m happy to participate to get my voice out there. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Was it easy to be accepted into starting ideological circles? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Like. Yeah. It was easy. For people to be asked do you mind if I sit do not and listen to what your concerns are? Once people know I’m genuine about that that that really is why I’m there, and not trying to — to fool them in any way like — like I was telling the students earlier today, I’m not trying to sell you anything. Not running for office. Not trying to tell why you’re wrong. As soon as they understand that I actually — my purpose in being there is to listen people were very welcoming. It didn’t — I guess it is a longer answer. It didn’t feel as though I had somehow magically passed over some threshold and got myself invited into an exclusive club. Never felt like that. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. How have your beliefs changed since starting talking to other people? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. I think my — very rarely I think does listening change our beliefs and I would say that is not why I think listening is important. Instead what it does is it helps you see the humanity in the other people and helps you probably better understand yourself. My beliefs have changed I think I have a stronger ception of what I value in this world and the kind of human interactions that I think are important and that I strive to — to replicate or have around me. But I don’t think my position — I don’t think my think on any policy issue has really changed or my own — my own political leanings. I don’t think that’s what good listening usually results in. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. If you say you picked up racism in the conversations can you elaborate? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Sure. So most common way is when people are talking about education and policy and they would be reflecting on where the school funding formula sends money in the state. People would talk about Milwaukee and talk about how — how — we sent that city so much money and look at the schools and places. There would be assessments. Cultural policy assessments. More money is in
the going to solve the problem because the problem is the way. I’m not going to repeat it. I rather not elaborate on the staereo types I heard. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Can you elaborate on the people can get involved? I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Sure. Great. All you have to do is go to lbm.org. Express interest and say local voices network, sounds pretty interesting, could we possibly start up a chapter here? You could also but that would probably take some time and expanding — there’s no — there’s no real formula for what it means to open a new chapter. It may be some time before a chapter would start up in Ann Arbor and you’re Ann Arbor but you may volunteer to be a curator who is a person that goes out and lifts highlights and writes notes I think other people should hear this and why. You could e-mail me. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. Very good, thank you if you want to join me in thanking Dr. Cramer for her time. [Applause]. I’m Tom Ivacko with the Urban Policy. If you like me want to talk to her more, we are lucky that she’ll be in campus for a couple of days and back in the building for breakfast on Friday. This is when the rural America working group that close-up is part of. It is an interdisciplinary group for — for faculty and staff and students across campus who have interest in — in research interest in rural America and opportunity to get together and she’ll join us then. It is a small breakfast and
we can add you to
the list. Thank you again, right now we’re ready — there’s
a reception that we hope you’ll join us for right after. Thank you.

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