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Exploring the intersection of civic engagement and civil discourse.

Exploring the intersection of civic engagement and civil discourse.
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Exploring the intersection of civic engagement and civil discourse.




Census 2020: Ashley Allison (Rebroadcast)

Census data supports communities Government and businesses rely on census data to provide the necessary services that make healthy and vibrant communities possible. The data reveals how many grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, or schools are needed, and even influence public transportation routes and budgets. An accurate and fair count will ensure that adequate resources are allocated. Undercounting and the citizenship question Asking whether the census participant is a citizen could...


Micah White

The crisis of our time People have very little political power beyond voting on election day. Current governing structures are incapable of changing the world and solving the big problems that we face, such as the climate crisis. The solution is to form a social movement – perhaps through revolution – that can make good decisions and achieve its goals, such as win elections, take sovereignty, and maintain power. A notable example is the Five Star Movement in Italy, which directs policy and...


Dave Archambault II

Financial risk and social cost Engaging in early and constructive dialogue between indigenous communities and corporations is crucial for success. Big companies involved in infrastructure projects that affect indigenous lands have the resources for careful research and negotiation to mitigate potential financial risks and social costs. Educating both indigenous people and corporations about each other’s interests protects indigenous rights and values, and increases the chances of fruitful...


Bearing Witness



Jackie Zammuto

See it, film it, change it Video documentation of injustice and systemic abuse can be a powerful tool for holding offenders accountable. The key is to present and disseminate the video effectively and strategically so that it is seen by the people who are moved to effect change. When the footage of an incident captures enough detail, it can be used as evidence in a court of law and positively affect the outcome of the trial. Think before sharing After recording human rights abuse, take...


Alan Yarborough and Bill Steverson

Enhance understanding The purpose of civil discourse is to enhance understanding, not to change minds. It’s always helpful to have a diversity of ideas, understand different perspectives, and potentially learn flaws in our own thinking. The pursuit of understanding is in and of itself a worthy endeavor. Civil discourse curriculum The five-week curriculum on civil discourse for the Episcopal Church is designed to facilitate productive conversations about society’s important issues. The...


María Urbina

Grassroots power Grassroots movements believe that change starts on the local level. Indivisible started with sharing a Google doc guide to empower everyday people to now having over 4,000 groups throughout the country. Indivisible’s website features information that demystifies Congress and turns everyone into the insiders that they should be. Candidates who are in regular community with the grassroots become better at making a case for bringing voters along to join them in their...


Bradford Fitch

Meet your Member of Congress If a lawmaker has not yet made a firm decision on an issue, an in-person meeting has a ninety-four percent efficacy rate as an advocacy strategy. It’s important for constituents to connect a personal story to pertinent information of how proposed legislation will impact the local community. This is what the lawmaker wants to know. Showing up at town hall meetings is also an effective way to share the needs and concerns of the community to the member of...


Julianne Hoffenberg

Effective advocacy The Gathering excels at bringing coalitions together with a common agenda; rapid and urgent response to crisis situations in communities; organizing, like marching in protest to Washington, D.C., from New York; and advocacy for criminal justice reform bills with members of Congress. In addition, it works with incarcerated youth through cultural education and non-violence training, and facilitates dialogue between communities and formerly incarcerated people. Kingian...


L.A. Kauffman

1963 March on Washington The 1963 March on Washington was the first mass protest in America. Due to the anxiety around such a massive group descending on Washington, the March was carefully planned from the top down by both the organizers and the Kennedy administration. The route was mapped out to march by the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, away from the White House and the Capitol. All the signs were made by one entity and bore uniform messages. Women’s March The Women’s...


Trailer: The Power of Protest?

Our new season examines the power of protest and other civic action. Guests include activists who protest and advocates who don’t, from Brad Fitch of the Congressional Management Foundation and Jackie Zammuto of WITNESS to Micah White, co-founder of Occupy Wall Street, and more.


Democracy Works: David Frum

This is a bonus episode from the Democracy Works podcast, which examines what it means to live in a democracy. Host Jenna Spinelle interviews David Frum, the author of Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic. He discusses how we can use the tools of civic engagement to build the democracy we want for ourselves and for future generations. David Frum is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic. In 2001 and 2002, he was...


Beto O'Rourke (Rebroadcast)

Rebuilding democracy from the ground up We need representatives who truly represent the people by directly engaging with and listening to their constituents. Removing the power of political action committees (PACs), special interests, and corporations is vital to getting our democracy back and making sure that elected government is responsive to the interests and concerns of human beings. Work together and set aside differences Achieving bipartisan collaboration comes through putting the...


Season Round Up: Poverty

Revisit some of the highlights of this season that gave us so much insight into poverty in America, added to our discourse, and helped us revise our thinking.


Kathryn Edin

The end of welfare Welfare ceased being guaranteed after reform in 1996. Although the safety net for the working class was strengthened through tax credits, the safety net for those who are jobless disappeared. In its current state, the welfare system is overwhelming and underfunded. States are given block grants that they can spend at their discretion. For example, Louisiana spends its money on anti-abortion clinics. As a result, over the course of a year, about 3.5 million children live...


Stephen Pimpare

Poverty is widespread Hardship in America is common. In all of rich democracies, we have the highest rates of poverty among the elderly and also among children. In fact, the majority of Americans will be poor for a significant period of time over the course of their lives: 62% percent will have their income at the bottom 20 percent for a year or more in their adult life, and 42% percent have income for a year or more at the bottom 10 percent of the distribution. About 21% of children live...


Gail Joseph

Invest in early learning Because the foundation for all of life’s successes -- whether academic, social, or emotional -- is laid in the first five years of life, it is critically important to invest in early learning. This is especially true for children from low income homes, who often do not have access to high quality early learning programs. As early as kindergarten, underprivileged children can be as much as 1.5 years behind the average child and it is very difficult for them to catch...


Dan Weissmann

Picking an insurance plan is nearly impossible Although it is no surprise that picking an insurance plan is complicated, it turns out it is nearly impossible. A study by George Loewenstein at Carnegie Mellon reveals that a majority of Americans will choose a suboptimal plan. With access to a full analysis of all the costs and regulations, 80% of us can make a sound decision. Insurance companies drive up costs Insurance companies are not motivated to keep costs down because they can pass...


Maria Foscarinis

The housing crisis started with a policy decision The leading cause was cutbacks to federal funding for housing for poor people starting with the Reagan administration. In 1978, the federal government was funding about over 300,000 new units of affordable housing each year. In 1983, that number had decreased to under 3,000 each year. Currently, only one in four poor people who qualify for federal housing assistance actually receives it. Working men and women who do not earn enough to pay...