"Ryan’s ability to connect with his audience is unmatched... book him if you can, your community will be better off for it!"
Are you tired of the seemingly insurmountable divisions in America? So is Ryan Bernsten, professional speaker and author of 50 States of Mind, A Journey to Rediscover American Democracy. He's been traveling the country creating forums for friendly but crucial conversations after his journey to all 50 states as an Oxford graduate student. He's spoken as a keynote speaker and held workshops at libraries, universities, bookstores, nonprofits, and schools across the country.
After working on a historic presidential campaign, Ryan felt disconnected from his country and decided to seek the truth on the ground. Armed with a grant from the University of Oxford, he embarked on an epic 23,000-mile journey, visiting 150 cities across all 50 states. Staying with people from all walks of life, Ryan immersed himself in their stories. He discovered that beneath the surface, Americans long for unity and shared values.
Ryan's talk encourages us to focus on the positive changes happening in our own neighborhoods and communities. By being actively involved and open-minded, we can make a real impact, while being aware of the dangers of social media's echo chambers and how they perpetuate divisiveness, emphasizing the importance of looking beyond these platforms to find real connections and meaningful conversations. Ryan's message inspires us all to contribute to a constructive, compassionate, and collaborative America.
Will you join Ryan on a mission to unite America?
“Ryan is a great speaker who draws from his research and real-world experiences to meaningfully connect with audiences of all backgrounds. In speaking about his book, 50 States of Mind, he artfully weaves together relatable anecdotes from his cross-country travel adventure and listening tour. Through this storytelling, he demonstrates how each of us are fundamentally connected to one another, and how life can become richer through the relationships we build. I would hire him to speak at another event in an instant.”
- Claire Bishop, Executive Director, American Public Square
“Our guests recently enjoyed an incredibly engaging evening with Ryan Bernsten at our Food for Thought dinner series. In fact, Ryan’s thoughtful remarks offer much food for thought, reflecting on both the incredible diversity of our country, the resilience of our communities, and the many reasons we have for optimism.”
- Michael Crotty, Director, Marketing and Communications, Hancock Shaker Village
“We hosted Ryan Bernsten for an Author Talk at the Oak Bluffs Library on Martha's Vineyard. Ryan's story of connection and compassion as he journeys across the United States is truly inspiring, and something this country needs right now. His author talk made an impact on each member of the audience and allowed folks to focus on what connects us, and how to foster that connection.”
- Hannah Burbidge, Adult Programming Coordinator, Oak Bluffs Library
“I lean towards not only is the glass is half full, someone dropped it. But Ryan’s book and talk made even a cynic like me have hope for America’s political future.”
- Trevor Richards, Adult Services Librarian, Amery Area Public Library, Amery, WI
“I highly recommend Ryan's program and book "50 States of Mind: A Journey to Rediscover American Democracy." Ryan is personable and engaging and his passion for this subject is evident both from the book and the way he discusses his journey. Despite the perceived differences and decisiveness in the country, Ryan uses storytelling and discussion to emphasize the ways in which we are united and how to find common ground. Overall the program was uplifting, informative and entertaining!”
- Lindsay Manning, Assistant Library Director, Mashpee Public Library
“Ryan’s ability to connect with his audience is unmatched and he guided a thought-provoking and insightful conversation with kindness and levity. What a breath of fresh air… book him if you can, your community will be better off for it!”
- Abby MacLean, Reference Librarian, Hingham Public Library
“Ryan was the inaugural speaker for our new library. People were excited for the first in-person program since COVID, and Ryan did not disappoint. Our patrons were interested and engaged, and Ryan facilitated a great discussion that left everyone thinking about communication. We loved having him here.”
- Lisa Prolman, Assistant Director, Greenfield Public Library
“Bringing Mr. Bernsten to our small and rural library in Maine was one of our best programs this year. The topic of his book, and the genuine way the author sowed the seeds for robust and honest conversation among the group, made for a productive and hopeful exchange of ideas - people sat for 2 hours and talked about what democracy is, large and small-scale. I know I left the program energized to use the power I have as an American citizen in a librarian's role to make this corner of the world a better place! Mr. Bernsten reminds us that there is an awful lot of good going on, and that it is a personal choice to recognize it and take that cue that every single person can help make a community thrive.”
- Kristen Budlong, Library Director, Bremen Library
“Ryan thrives in taking a potentially divisive discussion on politics and turning it into a friendly discussion amongst equals.”
- Abby Tule, Assistant Director, Bethlehem Public Library
Is America as divided as it seems? Oxford University graduate student Ryan Bernsten takes a 23,000-mile journey through all 50 states of his home country to answer that question. 50 States of Mind: A Journey to Rediscover American Democracy is a work of travel nonfiction in the style of Alexis de Tocqueville that takes readers on a long and winding journey through all 50 states to explore the complexities of today’s America. Leading with the desire to listen and overcome preconceived notions, Bernsten ultimately offers a hopeful vision for the future of America as he embarks on a search for meaning and reflects on what it means to be American. The companion podcast “50 States of Mind,” featured in Condé Nast Traveler, showcases live interviews from the journey and is available on all podcast platforms. 50 States of Mind has been featured on Kansas City NPR, Two Broads Talking Politics, Sanity, Chicago Indivisible, Northwestern Intersections, Travel For a Loop, and in The Pitch and Condé Nast Traveler.
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