Collaboration in Civic Spheres

“Renewed civics education” theme of City Club outreach

by October 4th, 2011

The non-partisan non-profit Seattle City Club has launched its 2011 Community Matters Campaign with a special focus on reinvigorating civics education and citizenship. There are online surveys and games, exploration of state and local ballot measures at The Living Voters Guide, plus discussion groups and public forums. City Club explains, at its Community Matters Campaign page:

City Club and Guiding Lights Network are launching an initiative to revitalize civics education because, currently, it’s absent from most students’ school experience. We feel this is a serious problem for our democracy. We’re committed to advocate and develop programming for renewed civics education, but we need your help to create a smart platform for what it should look like. The community input we receive from this year’s Community Matters Campaign will directly inform that platform….Our goal is to create dialogue, buzz and inspiration to act; to engage our whole community with the data, urgency and opportunity for positive change, and as a result, to develop a more engaged community.

You can start by answering three questions in the “Great Citizenship Survey” that’s available online and open until November 17.

The survey questions are:

  • “What inspires you to be involved in your community?”
  • “What does a great citizen do?”
  • “Did you receive any formal civics education?” (Yes/No)

  • The 2011 Community Matters Campaign also includes “The Great Citizenship Game,” available online. You’re asked to rate the relative importance of nine citizenship components: knowing how government works; knowing American history; understanding media; listening skills; cultural responsiveness; verbal and persuasive skills; collaboration/negotiation skills; ability to foster change; and leadership/empowerment capabilities.

    To get an idea of why being engaged and informed actually matters, City Club has a brief quiz on civics education here.

    The 2011 Community Matters Campaign includes offline, face-to-face components. You can sign up to attend facilitated 60-minute dialogs that will harvest perspectives on how best to enrich civics education and community engagement. You may also register to attend any of the three remaining public forums on health care, elections, and engagement.

    In an interview, City Club Executive Director Diane Douglas said, “A lot of people have felt intense frustration with the gridlock in Washington, D.C. As the elections of 2011 and 2012 approach we all need an antidote to the vitriol we hear all around us. People are yearning for a more civil discourse. It’s time to reboot and repair, to mine the wisdom of the community about the skills and values need to return to a citizenship that’s about listening, constructive action and mutual benefit.”

    A final report from City Club detailing community recommendations for renewed civics education is expected to be available by the first quarter of 2012.

    RELATED: City Club publications archive.

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