Tech boom tensions to be addressed by Denver leaders during the Better Arguments Project event
In an era of deep political and societal divides across the country, what does public discourse look like when “winning” is taken off the table? Grounded on the premise that American civic life doesn’t need fewer arguments, but better ones, the Better Arguments Project is a national initiative focused on encouraging Americans to engage each other in more constructive dialogue. The program seeks to strengthen communities by helping bridge ideological differences, providing tools that help people listen and learn from others in their community.
On June 13, at Anythink Wright Farms in Thornton, Colorado, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the Better Arguments Project is piloting “Better Arguments: Tech Boom Tension in Denver.” The program will include remarks by local and national leaders, including Colorado Governor Jared Polis; facilitated conversations and interactive training, and invitations to participate in follow-up sessions. The project represents a partnership between the Aspen Institute Citizenship and American Identity Program, Facing History and Ourselves, Allstate and local partner Anythink Libraries.
Participants will have the opportunity to constructively engage in contentious topics, including economic growth, technological advancement, inequity, gentrification and housing displacement, as they relate to metro Denver’s booming tech industry. As full participants in the discussion, attendees are invited to formulate ideas for action in their communities, with up to three specific ideas receiving up to $1,000 per idea in seed funding.
“As a resident of Denver for the past 10 years and local small business owner for four years, I’ve watched the city’s growth and development change over time,” said Danielle Lammon, a Denver Allstate agency owner and local community leader. “At Allstate, we believe local communities have the power to engage more constructively about the ideas that divide us. Businesses should do more to strengthen local communities and we want to create a positive impact in Denver by seeking out solutions to divisive issues.”
- Sam Bailey, Vice President of Economic Development, Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation
- Roger Brooks, President & CEO, Facing History and Ourselves
- Dr. Lisa Calderón, Professor, Regis University
- Tamara Chuang, Journalist, The Colorado Sun
- Danielle Lammon, Denver Small Business (Agency) Owner, Allstate
- Eric Liu, Executive Director of the Citizenship & American Identity Program at the Aspen Institute
- Gov. Jared Polis, Governor of Colorado
- Pam Sandlian-Smith, Director, Anythink Libraries
“Profound divides with deep historical roots exist across the country,” said Eric Liu, executive director of the Citizenship & American Identity Program at Aspen Institute. “Instead of papering over these differences, we need to understand their origins, grow smarter about engaging them, learn to ask better questions, and get better at arguing with one another about them. That is the spirit of our work in the Denver region, which like many areas is confronting rapid changes and concerns that don’t offer simple solutions.”
"In Facing History classrooms, students learn that democracy, among the most fragile of human enterprises, is always a work in progress, and can only remain vital through the active, thoughtful, and responsible participation of its citizens,” said Roger Brooks, president & CEO of Facing History and Ourselves. “By coming together to engage across differences in a Better Argument, Denverites are making an important investment in the health of our democracy."
As a community hub and host to “Better Arguments: Tech Boom Tensions,” Anythink Wright Farms hosts and facilitates experiences that connect people, organizations and agencies with ideas and each other.
“People are looking to the library as a safe space to discuss issues that are important to them,” says Anythink Director of Innovations and Brand Strategy Stacie Ledden. “We’re honored to host Better Arguments: Tech Boom Tensions at Anythink and to work together with the Aspen Institute, Facing History and Ourselves and Allstate to help facilitate better arguments. This gathering convenes an influential group of speakers and participants to address a topic that is impacting lives across the Denver metro region, including those who live and work right here in Adams County.”
“Better Arguments: Tech Boom Tensions” is the second pilot event to put the principles behind the Better Arguments Project into action. The first took place in March 2019 in Detroit, Michigan, in partnership with Urban Consulate. It focused on tensions between longtime Detroiters and newcomers to the city.