Most people learn of Strong Towns through our content. Someone will receive a piece we've written from someone (thank you for sharing - it's so important), or they'll come across a social media posting, and they'll check us out.
This is interesting. I think I like this take. I wonder who Strong Towns is. Are they my tribe?
In other words: Are we of like mind on the range of issues that my political perspective generally adheres to? Is it safe to let people know I like this article? Is it safe for me to even dig deeper into this site? Even worse, am I going to be tricked into reading and -- please no -- sharing something unacceptable to my tribe?
The next step is to click on our Mission tab and see if the right signals are there. Can I find the buzzwords, the endorsements and the network of alliances that I would expect to find in a site speaking to my tribe?
Panic sets in. Who are these people?
A recent study by some Canadian psychologists suggests that more than 60% of both conservatives and liberals did not even want to be exposed to ideas that they did not agree with. That's not debating or arguing with someone who is obnoxious but actually just reading a short list of opposing thoughts. Not willing to do it (even for money). From a story in the L.A. Times:
We offered a chance to win $10 to participants who opposed letting gay couples marry. There was a catch: To qualify for the prize drawing, they had to read eight arguments for legalizing same-sex marriage. As an alternative, they could read eight anti-same-sex marriage statements — but any potential prize money would be reduced to $7. Greed and curiosity were teamed up against motivated ignorance.
Motivated ignorance won. Most conservatives (61%) chose to stay in their bubble and forgo the extra cash.
And when we gave liberals the same dilemma? Slightly more, 64%, chose to stay in their bubble.
Participants said that hearing from the other side felt lousy; they reported it was about as unpleasant as taking out the trash or standing in line for twenty minutes. Ouch.
So are we your tribe?
Sometimes maybe. Sometimes not. Stick around long enough and we'll write something that supports your worldview. Stick around longer and you'll hear something that challenges it. I actually make it a habit to routinely challenge my own worldview. It's healthy.
We have people who identify as liberal on our staff, board and among our contributors. We also have people who identify as conservative on our staff, board and among our contributors. We all kinda like each other and have found that the principles of Strong Towns are something we can all agree on. I firmly believe that you can have left-of-center thinking and build a successful Strong Town and you can be right-of-center in your thinking and do likewise. When it gets to the local level, we all become neighbors.
So if you're nervous about us not being your tribe, here's my promise to you: We're not a partisan organization and we'll never be one. We're not going to embarrass you with political talking points. We're not going to align with any ideologies or movements outside of our core mission. We're going to continue to embrace a diversity of opinions and viewpoints in our content and we're going to welcome all open-minded, thoughtful people into our conversation.
If you like what we're doing here, help us grow our tribe. Share something we've done that you like with people you care about. Your endorsement of Strong Towns to your friends and colleagues is the best way for us to overcome the obstacle of not being in a tribe.