It’s Your America: Cleveland 2022 Report


On Saturday, April 2, 2022, 60 people from the greater Cleveland area teamed up for an experiment in better government. They were participants in It’s Your America, a deliberative democracy initiative that brings together people from across the political spectrum to learn about, discuss, and tackle critical national issues together. This event was the first in an ongoing series of citizen policy deliberations on digital disinformation and free speech that Civic Genius is hosting in communities across the country.

Participants came from a wide variety of backgrounds, with significant diversity of ideology, race, income, and national origin. Civic Genius deployed a community organizing model to educate people about the event and invite them to participate. Our team worked with dozens of community leaders and national partners, including NAACP, Country First, Urban League, City Club, Braver Angels, Phi Kappa Psi at Case Western Reserve, and YOUnify, which promoted the event to their members.

It’s great to see so many people with differing viewpoints and political leanings have an enjoyable civic discussion.

Citizen Deliberations

Participants spent five hours in small groups of 6-8 people, going through a process designed to help them create solutions on the topic of digital disinformation and free speech. Over the course of the day, the groups:

  • Made commitments to work together in good faith.
  • Got to know each other by discussing nuances in their own ideological views and experiences.
  • Discovered shared values.
  • Learned about the issue and the tensions of managing digital disinformation while protecting free speech.
  • Brainstormed solutions and discussed the pros and cons of each.
  • Crafted and pressure-tested common ground solutions.
  • Committed to taking action on the issue.

We can make a tangible impact on the causes we care about.


To better understand the impact of It’s Your America, Civic Genius and Convergence partnered with More in Common, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that researches the drivers of social fracturing and polarization. More in Common adapted its survey tool for this venue, and Civic Genius administered it    to participants before and after the event. While the sample size was too small to yield conclusive results and more research is needed, the survey found that “Overall, attitudes towards civic engagement, compromise, and political outgroups shifted positively after the event.”

Key Takeaways

  1. Affective polarization: Warmth towards outgroups increased after the event (i.e. Democrats felt warmer toward Republicans and Republicans felt warmer toward Democrats after the event).
  2. Conversation Attitudes: Attitudes towards compromise and self-disclosure trended positive after the event. There were notable increases in people who said “I find listening to opposing views informative” and “In a debate or argument, I feel comfortable expressing my perspective.”
  3. Civic Engagement: Attitudes towards civic engagement trended positive. There were notable increases in likeliness to call an elected official and in agreement with the statement “I believe that all citizens have a responsibility to their community.”

We learned how to come together as a group to form consensus about an issue.

Citizen Deliberation In Color

A number of participants stayed after the event to continue talking…


Next Steps

Deliberating and crafting smart, nuanced, common ground policy is only the first step. Next, It’s Your America participants in Cleveland are organizing to take action, with their first chapter meeting scheduled for late June. Here, participants will:

  • Decide which solutions to prioritize.
  • Create action steps they plan to take.
  • Identify skills and resources they need, such as an advocacy training or an op-ed writing workshop.

Before leaving the event, participants wrote postcards to their future selves, to be delivered a few weeks later. Here are some examples:

Four postcards written by participants showing the actions they're committed to.

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