Respect, Rebel, Repeat: Subversive Friendships for Divided Times
Back in the day, many political foes were friends in real life-hanging out for a beer after a tough legislative floor fight, attending their kids’ weddings over the weekends. It’s a sure sign of the times when any across-the-aisle friends that still exist out there in the wild tend to keep their friendship on the down low, in case they’d be accused of fraternizing with “the enemy.”
—Patricia Nelson Limerick, Dining with Jeff in The New York Times
Back in the day, many political foes were friends in real life—hanging out for a beer after a tough legislative floor fight, attending their kids’ weddings over the weekends. It’s a sure sign of the times when any across-the-aisle friends that still exist out there in the wild tend to keep their friendship on the down low, in case they’d be accused of fraternizing with “the enemy.” From the halls of Congress to our hometown, this makes becoming or staying bipartisan friends an act of straight up rebellion against the toxic and divided culture we find ourselves in.
We’ll be joined by one such pair of fantastically dissimilar friends, Dr. Jacob Hess (who has been the most influential force for The Village Square who you’ve never met) and Village Square Founder Liz Joyner (you might have met her).
Jacob is wrong about almost everything, except he’s really nice so Liz hangs out with him anyway. Jacob and Liz have been rebelling together for about a decade now, and they’re not only convinced liberals and conservatives are better together but they are obstinately bound and determined to buck the stultifying groupthink and start a trend.
Also joining us are two extraordinary people—Alex Workman and Talethia Edwards—who each have made relationships across differences an integral part of the lives they lead. The communities that have formed around them show why that matters to the future of our hometown (and we think the future of democracy itself). The conversation will be facilitated by The Village Square’s brand new Executive Director and podcast host extraordinaire Vanessa Rowse (she takes this job seriously and went and married her political opposite). Keep right on reading to meet Jacob, Alex and Talethia (and learn about swag for disagreeing pairs who come to dinner together).
Jacob is the co-author of “You’re Not as Crazy as I thought (but you’re still wrong).” Dr. Hess works at a tech company that makes apps to overcome pornography addiction, chemical dependency, and depression, and is Editor-in-Chief at Public Square Magazine and writes for the Deseret News on the peace-building beat.
Alex Workman is part of a husband and wife creative team (“The Workmans“) with a heart for helping organizations tell their story. In addition to working with clients, they have also founded and collaborated on many community projects, such as Aerial Tallahassee, #RefugeesofTLH, Never Forgotten Coast, The Workmans Coffee Spots, #COVIDwear, #ENDITTLH and #100Coffees (which we are such serious fans of, so we’re keeping it rolling to hit #AZillionCoffees—or so).
Talethia Edwards is a wife, mother of seven, and community leader who focuses her efforts on youth and community development in Tallahassee. She is the Executive Director of the H.A.N.D. Up Project, Founder and President of the Greater Bond Neighborhood Association, and Founder of the Leaping for Literacy program. Talethia is a recipient of the first ever Tallahassee Awards (2021); she is one of Tallahassee’s 25 Women You Need to Know (2019); and she was named Leon County Neighbor of the Year (2016). Check out her Ted Talk here.
***Bring a friend who looks or thinks different than you and you both get a squishy flying pig stress toy to squeeze when other people annoy you (if you end up marrying them, we’ll pay for the honeymoon… to Carrabelle).