Welcome to the connection hub

As the calendar turned over from December to January, a meme repeatedly showed up in my doom-scrolling:  

“The moment you realize 2022 is pronounced ‘2020 too’”.... 

The first time I saw it, I laughed out loud. And then I cried a little, too. 

I’ve been holding onto the idea that if we can only get through this week, this month, this surge, this season, this whatever, then at some point this will be over. And then we’ll be able to get on with creating a new kind of normal. I’ve banked on the phrase “post-pandemic” more times than I care to admit.    

But the truth is, I need to change my mindset. This isn’t something to get through, but rather, it’s something to learn to live with. Yes, my kids are back to wearing masks at the playground. And grocery store shelves are sparse again. The systems that sustain life are under strain, and as human beings, we are, too. We’re frustrated, and sad, and struggling. More canceled plans. Fears of getting sick, again. Worrying about friends and loved ones. Unsure of what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to. The experience of living in this protracted reality is weighing on us, so much so that I have witnessed acts of unkindness I would have been shocked by 18 months ago. At the bus stop. In line at the coffee shop. At the dog park. We’re exhausted and our fuses are short.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that new research shows Americans are struggling to care for others, especially across our differences. A wise friend recently asked:

“How will we move from this collective trauma to collective renewal?”

I always want the new year to be a time of aspirations and hope, but the year “2020 too” seems to be one in which we must doggedly resign ourselves to soldiering on, together.  

The persistent uncertainty of the world around us makes it that much more important for us to seek deeper levels of connection and understanding. Because, yes: being truly together—even in the muck of it—is the very thing that will help us feel a whole lot better. 

Whatever it is you are feeling, someone else is too. If we step into that awareness fully, it becomes an invitation to reach out and find each other. That is my hope for each of us. Let’s join Laysha Ward’s call to make this the year of “The Great ReConnection." I hope you’ll use this as a reminder to reconnect with someone today, and every day. Perhaps you could invite a friend or relative to record an interview with you via StoryCorps Connect. A seemingly simple act with profound dividends. For you, for them, and for our collective culture and consciousness. Because we get to choose. Let’s choose one another. 

You may notice some updates to this monthly newsletter. Last year, we asked for your feedback. What’s working well and what can we do better? We’ve taken that input to heart as we move into this new year.

In response, I’m excited to share our new Connection Hub, filled with resources, tools, and reflections to more easily find what you need to advance our shared goal of fostering deeper human connection in America.  

We’ll be using our monthly newsletter to shine a light on new content from the Hub, including reflections from our team and me (retiring this longform letter at the top). We also appreciated the feedback that we should showcase a broader diversity of voices from across our collaborative efforts. We’re actively seeking to expand the perspectives we offer with guest contributions, both through syndicated content and exclusive reflections. We hope that in doing so, we’re able to offer you more interesting and engaging tools, research, resources, and more from across our partners so you can bring their insights more easily into your work. We’d love to hear how you’re using it and what more you would want to see. Our intent is that the Connection Hub becomes a place to return to for both inspiration and guidance, to help each of us live a more connection-filled life. 

Below, you’ll find a reflection from our Building Lead Jonathan Gruber on Making Caring Common’s latest study on the state of caring in America, and a summary from our Bonding Lead Ira Hillman of last fall’s Early Relational Health Funder Summit. In this moment of perspective-taking, I’m also pleased to amplify the beautiful reflection of IFYC’s Vice President, Mary Ellen Giess, who offers advice to bridge-builders one year after the January 6 attack on the Capitol. And we’re thrilled to share that many of our bridge-building partners were featured on PBS NewsHour, including StoryCorps, whose One Small Step Initiative had its own spotlight on 60 Minutes. You can see both news features below.   

Thank you for being on this journey with us. Wishing you strength, good health, and meaningful connection.  

With appreciation, 

Jenn Hoos Rothberg
Executive Director

Reflections on Human Connection

Welcome to the Connection Hub

Jenn Hoos Rothberg

We hope you'll check out and share Einhorn Collaborative's new portal that offers tools, research, and reflections on human connection.
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The Challenge of Caring for Others Across Difference

Jonathan Gruber

Our Building Lead shares key insights from a new study from Making Caring Common that offers a data-driven look at the state of caring in America 
Read More

Building Philanthropic Momentum in Early Relational Health (ERH)

Ira Hillman

Guided by insights from last fall’s ERH Summit, funders are joining together to support emotional connection for families. 
Read More

What Does January 6 Mean for Bridge-builders?

Mary Ellen Giess, IFYC

A leader in the bridge-building field reflects on how to meet the divisions in America's democracy with both curiosity and truth. 
Read More

Why We Must Prioritize Bridging Our Divides

Jenn Hoos Rothberg

Our Executive Director reflects on the CEP blog on the role philanthropy can play in changing our culture.
Read More

Do Americans Really Care For Each Other?
What Unites Us—And What Divides Us

Americans still fundamentally care for each other despite political differences, but various persistent biases may be preventing many Americans from caring for those who are different from them—and may impede a path to unity. 

Findings suggest that Americans tend to value caring, are engaging in caring acts, and still feel connected to each other across the political divide. But most Americans don’t appear to have substantial concern for people who are different from them in terms of race, ethnicity, and religion, and many struggle to extend compassion to those they believe have made mistakes. 

Read the Latest Report

Through the Prism

 with Dr. Sandra Chapman & Rachel Godsil
Perception Institute

Resources to watch


Eboo Patel reflects on religion's role in our societies and its effect on building bridges.

Watch Now

bell hooks + john a. powell:

Remember bell hooks’ extraordinary insight and legacy in conversation with john a. powell.

Watch Now

PBS News Hour:

Political polarization prompts efforts to bridge the gap through shared experiences.

Watch Now

60 Minutes:

Bridging America's political divide with conversat-ions, "One Small Step" at a time.

Watch Now

Resources to READ

Nurture Science Program: Joint Attention Through a Nurture Science Lens

Learn more about how connecting activities can foster connection through joint attention with Nurture Science.

The Hill: Portraits from the Capitol steps

Portraits from the Capitol steps: January 6, 2021 featuring filmmaker of 2020 Americans Horacio Marquínez.

The Conversation: When meeting someone new, try skirting the small talk and digging a little deeper

Three professors of marketing and behavioral science recommend how to build deeper connection with people you've just met.

The Atlantic: The Myth of Tribalism

Beware of the false notion that group solidarity leads inevitably to conflict.

36 Questions for Civic Love

Use these 36 questions to build your commitment to the common good. 

The Cornell Business Forum: 
Investing To Do the Greatest Good

Thursday, January 27, 2022, 6pm EST

Join us for a conversation with David M. Einhorn (Cornell ’91)—president of Greenlight Capital, Inc. and founder and Trustee of Einhorn Collaborative—hosted by Andrew Karolyi, dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.

David, Andrew, and several student leaders will discuss the opportunity and responsibility that business schools have to develop the next generation of global citizens, empowered to work collaboratively to create sustainable, shared prosperity. David’s foundation recently created the Cornell David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement, which is partnering with the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business to help students, faculty, and alumni embrace the university’s land-grant mission and improve lives across the nation and around the world. David will also share his insights on the current state of the economy and will answer questions from the audience.

Register Now

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