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Changes: Collaboration and Willpower for Civic Life

We’re opening up the conversation. The community around Politicolor has always been at its best when it was able to exchange ideas, share experiences and think through all of that together. Activity here has been slow as Shellee consulted with community members to imagine what it might look like to have a collaborative space online where all of that could still happen despite the distances between us. Introducing our online community where an engaged citizenry is more than a recurring theme. It’s our shared project. The people who make self-government work, by recruiting and supporting an engaged citizenry often do…

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Let’s Talk More: Bringing Ben Franklin Circles to Austin

As it turns out, the discussion about temperance wasn’t as outdated as it seemed. Or boring! With five months behind us, the Ben Franklin Circle meeting in Austin continues to work to surprising conclusions. We started with temperance but have now made an inquiry of justice, order, moderation and cleanliness. I facilitate the discussion but often find myself surprised by all the places we go when we connect with one another on Ben Franklin’s big ideas about a well-lived life. Our most recent meeting focused on frugality. We were on the verge of the summer with all the buzz that…

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#Charlottesville

It’s time to act. Heather Heyer updated her Facebook page shortly before she was murdered by racial hate in Charlottesville this weekend. She added the quote, “If you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention.” Be outraged. Find a cause in your community and become an active agent working toward the future we believe is ours. Remember Heather.

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This Week’s Canvas: Something is Burning

August 11, 2017 Returning to the fight to find something smart to read and we’re keeping our cool. No easy feat given the climate change report leaked recently suggests it’s nothing but record-setting high temps from here on out. Maybe devastation is the new black. Let’s see what we can figure out about how we got here. North Korea WTH (also DJTWTH) Is there anyone with more than WTH to say about the escalating war of words between North Korea and President Trump? I thought that was the only rational response until NYT’s new(-ish) podcast, The Daily, came to my…

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National Academy 2017: Questions, Answers and More Questions

In today’s political forum, no one is looking to start another argument. It’s still true, however, that a good argument can make all the difference in what happens next. Good arguments require connecting ideas. Listening to one another and thinking through a logical framework together. When we avoid arguing reasonably together, we also turn away the connectedness and empathy it cultivates. Sadly, Election 2016 has us all imagining partisan battle stations with perfectly calibrated talking points. One good argument could bridge the gap between fighting one another and thinking together. Good arguments rely on good questions. One good question could…

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Civic Perspective and the Cosmos

“‘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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This Week’s Canvas: On Getting Things Right

There’s no magic trick for picking three stories to put at the top of the concerned citizen’s reading list. I struggle to survive the daily deluge of news just like everyone else. I often fiddle with the idea that this week was the week when it became impossible. Fortunately there was one headline this round that kept me focused: What if Politicians Studied the Social Fabric like Economists Study GDP: One of Washington’s most conservative legislators on an age of polarization, inequality and fragmentation I took the bait before I read the last word. What if? What if politicians and…

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Together as One People

The original project to unite the people of the United States as one people began in May 1787. There’s a project taking place in New Orleans today that reminds us the project continues. The city started removing Confederate statues in the middle of the night. The original proposal to remove the symbols came in the wake of  the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina and encountered countless legal challenges. The time had come to take the statues down. The opposition gathered with Confederate flags and weapons on display. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu spoke eloquently about why this project was necessary…

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