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Welcome to the conversation

A few months back, we had a great idea. We would go out into America and tell the story of the challenges Americans face - the things they'll be thinking about as they enter voting booths in November. We figured a lot of news organizations would have similar ideas, and we wanted ours to be different. More interesting. More useful for our readers. More than a lament.

So we decided to ignore the campaign roller coaster and Washington message wars and examine America's most fundamental problems from the ground up. We decided to tell stories about real people across the country who are having a hard time right now coping with the breakdown in our economy, government, society, and basic person-to-person relationships. We thought - and still think - their experiences will illustrate just how serious and real these problems are.

We also thought that concept, by itself, would be pretty depressing.

So along with examining those problems, we decided to find stories that point the country toward solutions. To find those solutions, we knew we'd need to get people talking about the big issues: readers, lawmakers, policy experts, voters. Real people.

If we can't talk honestly together about our problems, we don't see any way for the country to solve major challenges like widening income inequality, lost opportunity for working people, increased competition for diminishing resources, high gasoline and health care costs, existential national security threats, and the transition to a higher-skilled economy that requires an education our colleges often don't provide.

We don't start this discussion thinking solutions come from any one place - government, markets, academics, entrepreneurs, even know-it-all reporters. But we do think each of those areas has something to offer in the debate.

We also believe that if we talk it out, rather than just shouting at each other for the next eight months, we just might get somewhere.

So welcome to Restoration Calls and the Restoration Roundtable blog. We hope you'll be a part of this conversation. Post comments. Don't be shy about emailing us with ideas, suggestions, or even posts of your own. We want you in the discussion.

Just please remember: No shouting.

--Jim Tankersley and Kristin Roberts

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