Right now, it's easy to be negative about the state of the American democracy. Washington, DC is perhaps as broken as it has been in generations, and the result is a government that is literally not working. Going off of the news, it might be easy to completely divorce ourselves from the political process. To even give up hope, and look for other ways to make a difference.
But here at Generation Citizen, while we might be frustrated with the present, we're hopeful for the future of our democracy. For a few concrete reasons:
1) Our Action Civics Program is Starting Strong
: In the last week, we've started working in over 140 classrooms across our four sites, and have trained over 50 teachers and 250 college Democracy Coaches - all of whom are excited to bring Generation Citizen into the lives of over 4,000 students. This has included an exciting launch into the Bay Area, as we actually become a national organization
. They are all excited to help our students solve local problems in their communities by using the political process.
2) Our Democracy Coaches are Pretty Amazing: We're seeing the best of America in our classrooms. Yvonne Taylor, a Democracy Coach from Wagner College on Staten Island, gives us reason for optimism noting her reasons for joining GC:
"I am a refugee from Liberia, a country on the west coast of Africa, that has experienced a horrible civil war and much political turmoil in the last few decades. I believe what compels me so strongly to be involved in Generation Citizen is witnessing the breakdown of democratic government and seeing first hand how it takes the active work of every single citizen to truly rebuild it. I find it extremely sad that in the USA, a country that would be considered by most to have a "functional" democracy, that there is such a lack of politically engagement.
However, I find it even more inspiring that Generation Citizen has made it their main initiative to change this. As Liberians, school-aged children learn about the political climate out of necessity because many times it was a life or death situation. I hope that as we rebuild Liberia we can begin to approach civic education the way that Generation Citizen does, out of choice and passion. Because whether we are in America, Liberia, or anywhere in between, individuals' role in government affects the entire community." 3) Our Community Believes in a Better Democracy
: In addition to our in-class "action civics" curriculum, we're trying to broaden the conversation - engaging everyone in a dialogue on how to make our democracy what it can be. This includes a bigger social media presence
, and it includes a series of Jeffersonian Dinners. At these get-togethers, we've hosted a wide variety of individuals, all engaged throughout the evening in the basic conversation of "How can we get more people to participate in our democracy?"
We're committed to continuing that conversation. So as it seems like the darkest of times in politics, and perhaps, a reason to completely disengage, we are optimistic about the future. Are you? Let us know - we'd love to hear from you, and we'd love to include you as part of this bigger conversation. How do you think we can get more people to participate in our democracy?
And while you're at it, if you live in one of our four sites, why don't you come see a classroom and get inspired once more by the possibility of democracy? Click here to sign up for a classroom visit
In civic renewal,