The Burke-Paine Society wrapped up its pilot program. Since holding the first backyard salon in April, we've had over 1,000 in-person user experiences across the country. We learned just how important cross-partisan dialogue is and we are even more committed to the task of revitalizing our political culture. Over the next month, the Burke-Paine Society's leadership will be closely studying your feedback and designing BPS version 2.0.
Thank you to the many people who contributed to this pilot program. A very special thanks to those who dedicated so much: Jeremie Harris of Ottawa (our podcast host), John Alestra of Tampa as the Wizard of Memes, Carrie Sue Casey of Richmond, Andrew Brummett of Philadelphia, Wirt Wolff and Rick Wrona of Ft. Collins, Michael Allen of Austin, Tony Vengrove of New Milford, Mike Champness of Fairfax, Alicia Yaffe of Los Angeles, Rick Nussio of Washington, D.C., and Max Klima and Dan Favretto of Alexandria. Your leadership, devotion, and hard work inspired us.
Looking ahead, 2019 will be our year of professionalizing. We plan to focus in four areas: building a robust digital platform, deploying professional educational content to support our salons, awarding our first high school scholarships, and launching a new Salon-X model—cross-partisan experts’ groups focused on actions at the city, state, and national levels. Please figure out how to help: we need your expertise, access to your network, and (VERY soon!!) your donations as we will finally applied for tax exempt status.
Last, we remain incredibly optimistic about the future of inclusive self-governance in the United States and other countries that share our values. Despite strong headwinds, we will continue to fight for civil society, civic education and dialogue, and unity around those shared values of classical liberalism represented by Burke and Paine. And we've already made an impact. I've heard many personal testimonies about BPS: people reconnected with loved ones, learned empathy and became intellectual curious, and really curbed unhelpful social media behaviors. Most of all, so many people told me they started seeing the "opposing" side as real people with valid concerns and principles instead of pawns in service of a malign political agenda.
On behalf of Board Members Tony Smith and Jon Bateman and our entire leadership team across the nation, BPS wishes you a very happy New Year and a fantastic 2019!
Your faithful servant,
Mark B. Beall, Jr