In June 2018, Spirituality & Practice and our partners for The Practicing Democracy Project, the Fetzer Institute, convened a gathering of 24 spiritual leaders at Fetzer's Seasons retreat center in Michigan. The leaders represented a spectrum of religious and spiritual traditions. Our intention was to bring the wisdom and practices of our respective paths to bear on the challenge of reinvigorating the U.S. democracy.

Along with mealtime and evening informal conversations and group experiences of spiritual practices, the participants brainstormed in small groups how they could "practice democracy" in specific scenarios. The sharing of the small groups' comments with the whole group was recorded. From the transcripts of those conversations, we've collected their ideas. We then went through Spirituality & Practice's collection of spiritual practices to find matches to their suggestions for each scenario.


“You are attending a neighborhood meeting or town council meeting. The group is considering a proposal on an environmental issue (such as a permit to allow development). You have strong opinions on this issue, yet understand that there may be a need to compromise because the group has divergent views on the subject. What spiritual practices would you bring to this situation? Practices to build confidence and resilience? Practices to give voice to the prophet and justice-seeker? Resistance practices? Listening and openness practices?”

Convening participants discussed the nature of this imagined meeting and decided to start with the assumption that it was a governmental meeting. Within that framework, it would be important to establish transparent and clear processes so people knew what to expect. Here are the practices they suggested, from setting initial ground rules to expressing regrets and appreciations afterwards.