A Message from George Lakoff

America needs to renew its moral vision, to reestablish its fundamental principles, and to redirect its public discourse in order to realize a progressive future. That’s why America needs a Rockridge Institute.

The Rockridge Instituteserves major purposes:

Scientific purposes: To discover how unconscious thought, including the framing of issues, works in social and political discourse; and to publish the results openly and widely.

The democratization of knowledge: To make whatever is discovered freely available to the public in a form that is understandable and useful. For social purposes: To use this knowledge to improve the lives of Americans by showing how to better understand and communicate progressive American values over the full range of present and future issues.

Organizational purposes: To help spread the use of this knowledge by working with issue-oriented groups.

Political purposes: To make the results of our research freely available to the voting public and all candidates for public office, regardless of party affiliation.

None of these purposes can be achieved by any one person working alone. It takes an Institute, freely functioning outside of any university or other constraining institution. And within the Institute, it takes teams of people working together. We need researchers and writers, but also an administration, a web presence, targeted public outreach, and a fundraising capacity.

The need for teams is especially true of research. As an undergraduate at MIT, I learned early that science is done by and in teams. The idea of the isolated investigator working alone is a myth, especially today when knowledge of many sorts has to be brought together to bear on any complex problem. The cognitive structure of social and political discourse is an enormously complex problem and can only be addressed through team effort. As a senior fellow, I contribute to that effort and bring to it whatever special skills I have, but the team effort is essential. Ideas come from many sources, and our team members have their own special areas of expertise. The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. We have put together an extraordinary team here, but it is small. In order to address a far greater range of issues, the Institute needs to grow.

Just as we need a team within the Institute to achieve our purposes, we need a community. We need key influencers — knowledgeable individuals and organizations who inform the content of our work and link us to those who find our work useful. We need ambassadors who introduce us to people and organizations. We need financial supporters who make sure that we have the necessary resources. And we need a growing community of people who give us feedback and new ideas, and who find our work enlightening and helpful both in their social and political endeavors and in their daily lives.

Rockridge is about far more than messaging. It is about the American vision, the ideas needed to carry it out, and the language needed to make those ideas come alive. George Lakoff, Senior Fellow See also Rockridge Institute

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