November 17, 2017

Welcome to The Practicing Democracy Project. We will be sending you an update on the Project twice a month. Already it is shaping into a multi-faceted endeavor, and this will be our way of keeping you informed of new content on the Project's site , new related Topics, and program plans being developed.
The Project will recommend a wide variety of resources, but the main focus will be on spiritual practices. As we say in the Project Overview , we believe that democracy as a way of life can be strengthened and deepened through spiritual practices -- both those traditionally considered to be "inner work" and those that encourage active engagement with our neighbors and communities.

Both Spirituality & Practice and the Fetzer Institute, collaborators on the Project, have long advocated and collected spiritual practices as part of our work. We recognize that practice is the heart of the world's religions, and it is also the distinguishing mark of those on various spiritual paths. We hope you will feel welcome as you join us in exploring how we can practice democracy. Here's an article about things we like to remember about the path of practice .
We invite you to help us shape The Practicing Democracy Project. We have created an online survey where you can express your hopes and fears about American democracy and share your needs from the Project and your ideas for its work. The survey is here:
As we go into Thanksgiving week, we find ourselves very grateful for the opportunity to do this important work and for your support!
Mary Ann Brussat, Project Director for Spirituality & Practice
Michelle Scheidt, Program Officer for the Fetzer Institute

New Topic on Generosity . Giving to others has long been a cherished American value. Globally, think the Marshall Plan, USAID, and the Peace Corps. Locally, think the United Way, food banks, and the services of thousands of nonprofit charitable organizations. As we seek to build a shared vision for our communities and our country, generosity is a good place to begin. Our new topic on generosity recommends articles, audio clips, blog posts, books, children's books, films, memes, poetry, quotes, spiritual practices, and teaching stories, with more content to come. Here is a sampler:
Generosity Practices:
  • Here are some ways to practice generosity: accept invitations, feel at one with your giving, give of yourself, be generous with an adversary, think of what you could do with your money.
An article to use to assess and expand your own giving:
  • You Are What You Give by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat notes that we have at our disposal many ways of giving that strengthen our intention to be connected with others.
For preachers, teachers, bloggers, and other communicators:
  • Teaching stories illustrate the generosity of a rebbe who gave to a beggar a week later, a man who gave away half of his lunch every day, and Burmese village girls who gave their guests perfumed cotton balls.
  • Quotes on generosity  cover many ways this practice can be an acknowledgement that we belong to each other, including a list of seven kinds of generosity without money.
Books in which spiritual teachers salute generosity:
Films that accentuate the ethical actions of generous individuals:
Articles on the Internet about generosity:
  • 10 Ways to Foster Generosity in Your Students by Jessica McFadden suggests activities to embolden children to practice generosity including gratitude journals, collecting pennies for peace, hosting a food or diaper drive, and observing National Day of Service.
  • How Does It Feel Not To Give to Charity? by Adam Hoffman reports that a large body of research shows that spending money on others results in us being happier than when we spend money on ourselves.
Documentary Film 11/8/16 . Now streaming on-demand and in some theaters, this film covers what happened on Election Day 2016 - what people were thinking and saying as the hours passed and the results came in that evening. Eighteen directors traveled to different locations to catch the political talk and surprises of the day. See if you can keep an open mind and heart as you listen to the hopes and assumptions of a wide variety of American citizens.  
Coming Soon. Each year StoryCorps encourages Americans to participate in a National Day of Listening the day after Thanksgiving; this year it is November 24. Listening is a skill that is very important for those practicing democracy. We are updating the Listening pages at Spirituality & Practice with resources perfect for this day and all the days to come.
A Prayer. From our Praying the News blog, here is A Prayer for More Respect and Civility in Politics . We ask the God of Peace and Diversity and the Opener of Doors to move politicians beyond gridlock and partisan antipathy.  
The Practicing Democracy Project is a collaboration between The Center for Spirituality & Practice and the Fetzer Institute. Seek more at