the art of a good question

and civic life created by thinking together

Part local coffee house.

part university commons.

 17thCentury, coffeehouses earned a reputation as “penny universities.” Long communal tables were strewn with “every kind of media.” Familiar faces greeted new arrivals with the question:

“What news have you?” 

With as small an investment as a cup of coffee, you could join a conversation where new ideas and opinions were freely exchanged. The engaged citizenry and the civically curious gathered together around issues that mattered. Those coffeehouses were hubs of interaction and creativity.

Politicolor borrows from coffeehouse civics

  • Connectedness to a shared project of self-government 

  • Creativity in how we think about what we know

  • Curious and interested in understanding new ideas


We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.

—Carl Sagan

Learning Studio Events


Following themes of American political thought, these online events make it possible to think together through a shared text or other media. Topics have included the Initiative for the New Constitution, Trends in Social Media and Political Behavior and Measuring Gerrymandering.


Politicolor curates a reading list that seeks insight into the political questions we face today. Selected titles tace trends in social and political thought and invite you to pick up one of those foundational titles from your “someday” pile. Our online book club work through scheuled posts, live chats and webcasts to discuss titles that have included Brooke Gladstone’s The Trouble with Reality: A Rumination on Moral Panic in Our Time, W. E. B. DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk and Paul Woodruff’s First Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient Idea.

Civic Perspective

We’re on a mission to transform the daily scroll of headlines into questions that matter to a political community. In the Learning Studio, you will find questions, polls and conversation starters from our Questions of Civic Proportions email. We work together to compare notes when big stories the news and to show our work when it comes to engaging our local communities in the work of political life.

We love smart quotes and quotes about being smart. Add something to think about to your daily scroll.