Awe

Civic Perspective and the Cosmos

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“‘Come!’ said Africanus, ‘how long will your mind be chained to the Earth?’” Before setting out for Los Angeles, the scholars invited to the National Academy for Civics in Government read the Dream of Scipio. It’s about finding perspective. Where you look for answers shapes what you believe you know about the question.  Those chains can tie us down to the wrong question. In a previous post, we turned to a contemporary space traveler to emphasize the point. From astronaut Michael Collins’s 1974 book, Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journey: I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could…

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MLK’s Supporting Vocals

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We’ve all heard the sound clip of MLK’s speech from 50 years ago when thousands joined him and other leaders for the March on Washington. The refrain, “I have a dream” might be even be more recognizable to today’s students than pictures of the man himself. Whatever your social media channel, it has been overrun with pictures and memories from the moment on the mall. There is no denying that those are powerful words that have a power today few could have imagined 50 years ago. Much has been made about the genius of King who improvised those famous words…

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Write for Politicolor

Write for Politicolor

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If you believe political life has more potential than red vs. blue or even waving the red, white and blue, chances are that you have a story to share. Politicolor contributors believe we can breathe life back into our political community if we share the stories of what ordinary people are doing to make their corner of the world a better place and the ideas that have helped them believe it was possible. Or maybe even think it was imperative. The Politicolor Pitch The basic premise of Politicolor is that we can make it easier to see what active citizens…

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Detroit’s Hiedelberg Project: Questions of liveliness at the edges & organized complexity

Detroit’s Hiedelberg Project: Questions of liveliness at the edges & organized complexity

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It was like walking through a graveyard. We found ourselves talking in hushed tones or, mostly, not talking at all. Spookiest of all was the hope that still occupied the hollow spaces of the Hiedelberg Project. Horror and hope. Calling out from the empty houses, there was at once a community abandoned and a community committed to persevere. A four minute intro to the space that includes community voice and the artist, Tyree Guyton, who grew up in the neighborhood: Keith (Hobbes21), his family and mine walked through the Hiedelberg Project in Detroit enjoying the whimsy of giant polka dots…

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Valedictorian Speaks Out Against a Standardized Citizenry

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This speech suggests our students are no more satisfied than we are with the regime of standardized testing. In the classroom, I once discussed this kind of success with my 8th graders. The reports had come in and we had done “outstanding” on the History test. Best in the district and as high as anyone else in the state. The Principal came to congratulate us and we enjoyed our success that afternoon. The next day, however, we discussed how many questions students had to answer correctly to achieve this success. Less than 50%. They wanted to know why so little…

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Bon Jovi Believes in the Power of We

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The nightly news in Austin has been dominated by updates from Fort Hood. Perhaps it’s moments like this that justify that last story on the national news. The one about a long lost teddy bear or crazy cute animals at the local zoo. Tonight, however, that last story was more than a palate cleanser. On the way to commercial, Brian Williams mentioned a New Jersey boy who was giving back. When he returned he introduced the story over top of Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.” The piece focuses on Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation and features 52 apartments it has…

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Taking Art to the Streets in East L.A.

Taking Art to the Streets in East L.A.

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This year’s National Academy experienced the potency of color and politics through a mural tour of east L.A. Ben Weber, a participant this year, arranged for us to meet Carlos Callejo at the corner of Cesar Chavez and Soto in Boyle Heights. Carlos’s enthusiasm for taking art to the street, “where the people are,” was something more than infectious. He had been one of the first muralists to work on this corner twenty years ago and we now huddled around the back of his car as he unrolled his plans for a newly commissioned mural. He believes his art can…

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