Photo: Mood in America Study

Mood of America: A National Study Uncovering the Undercurrents in America

Posted on November 03, 2021 by Colleen Bowman, The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation
At a time of national upheaval, political polarization, and rampant grievances, it has never been more important to uncover how different people see, experience, and articulate the whole of their lives.

We must understand the unheard aspirations of Americans who feel left out and left behind and discover how working together can help move communities and the nation forward.

Since 1991, The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation has gone on a "walk across the country" every 3-5 years to engage Americans on the state of the country and their lives. The first-ever national study uncovered that Americans were not apathetic about politics and public life, but felt pushed out, disconnected, and impotent. That report – Citizens and Politics: A View from Main Street – went on to receive widespread national attention and helped to reframe public discourse.

The Harwood Institute, with support from the Kettering Foundation, has been conducting a new national study on the Mood of America. The study is based on 16 conversations with demographically and geographically diverse communities across America.

The Patterson Foundation organized and hosted one of these conversations in Sarasota County. Due to the careful attention and hard work of the foundation's fellows, the group represented the demographic makeup of Sarasota county. They engaged in a powerful and enlightening conversation led by President and Founder of The Harwood Institute, Rich Harwood.

The Patterson Foundation hosted this conversation alongside United Ways, public libraries, a public media station, community foundations, and a youth-focused organization from a Native American reservation. The following map shows where all 16 conversations were held:

11 3 21 Mood in America
Conversations explored four main areas of focus:
  • People's Concerns and Hopes: What are people's concerns today, what's beneath them, and in our troubled times, what gives people hope today?

  • Politics, Journalism, and Trust: How do people experience politics and public life today, and who and what do they trust and why?

  • Response to Covid and Civic Memory/Muscle: What responses have people seen to Covid and other recent crises, and what do these shared experiences suggest for how we might build on what works and move forward together?

  • Shared Stories and Struggles: What current and historical stories do Americans still share about how we have risen above common challenges and struggles, and what does it even mean to be an American today?
The Harwood Institute will publish the Mood of America report in early 2022. One early finding indicates that another virus – a civic virus – has infected us and is even more pervasive, contagious, and perilous to our nation's health.

Stay tuned for more critical insights about the mood of our country and how people are responding to today's challenges.

Aligning with the Harwood Institute's and The Patterson Foundation's mission to move society forward, the report will also highlight opportunities for working together to create a new trajectory of hope in our communities and our country.

Comments (1)



    10 November 2021 at 11:33 | #

    Our country is desperately in need of this kind of endeavor. Thank you for the work you do, I will look forward to the full report and ideas how individuals can help.


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