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In this episode, we speak with Sharon Dunn and Gwen Johnson — two members of Hands Across the Hills (HATH), a grassroots group working to build bridges between communities in rural Western Massachusetts and in the Eastern Kentucky coal country. Formed in the wake of the 2016 election, this group seeks to build empathy and unity between diverging perspectives through structured dialogue and cultural exchange. Sharon and Gwen share their experiences and the lessons they draw, illuminating how a breaking dynamic can shift to bridging — and move towards belonging — through deep conversation, care, and resiliency.

This episode of Who Belongs? is part of a new series of podcasts focused on telling bridging stories. Throughout the series we’ll talk to leaders implementing bridging work and individuals who have experienced the bridging transformation. This project is led by OBI’s Blueprint for Belonging project (B4B), and today's episode is hosted by OBI Summer Fellow Nicole Li. Read the case study written by Li here.