Connectedness

Changes: Collaboration and Willpower for Civic Life

Changes: Collaboration and Willpower for Civic Life

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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

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

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As it turns out, the discussion about temperance wasn’t as outdated as it seemed.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

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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: On Getting Things Right

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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

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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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Ralph Ketcham: A Champion for Civic Education

Ralph Ketcham: A Champion for Civic Education

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Civic Education lost a powerful voice for meaningful civics this week. While some count political wins with states adding the citizenship test to graduation requirements, Ralph Ketcham led the charge for civic education that was “interdisciplinary, team-taught and driven by deliberation on current events.” That’s civics worth doing and adds up to a political life worth sharing. When I attended an institute with Ketcham’s biography of Madison on the reading list, I was skeptical of the agenda. 761 pages published in 1971 for a one-week institute in 2005. I will, however, recommend it today and every time I’m asked until my…

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My Fellow Americans: Good Government is a Good Thing

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Shortly after Donald J. Trump took the oath of office, one of this country’s most treasured celebrities posted a new status update. I’m talking about George Takei. He told us we had to “remind ourselves that good government is a good thing,” and added a warning that,” Without this belief, we are lost.” He navigated the Star Trek universe so Takei’s lead is a good one to follow. This belief in good government helps us make sense of our past and think through the citizen’s role today. It helps us parse the words of elected representatives who understand who we are…

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Editor’s Note: November 2016 and Finding the Way Forward for Civic Education

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Returning to “online news” with a fair measure of caution, I read a suggestion to “find solace in your tribe,” and I knew exactly who I needed to talk to in the days ahead. I have always counted a particular network of civic educators as one of the priceless assets of my career. Failing to put a value on it, however, puts it at risk of the same calculation that has allowed STEM education to push civics out of classrooms. All signs indicate that our communities might be more at risk than ever. We need civics. It’s time we pull…

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Let’s Talk: A Conversation about Faith & Understanding at a Texas High School

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The posters extended an invitation: “Let’s Talk.” The next line hinted at a joke that could get uncomfortable… “A Christian, a Muslim and a Hindu Walk into a School.” At Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas, three students looked beyond that discomfort to step into the spotlight and answer questions about their beliefs. Jay Schlaegel, a Senior there, crafted the invitation to get people talking about the event. He recalls noticing the frustrations he knew from national headlines had started to gain traction in his community. Jay talks about the “small shifts” he saw in how people talked to one…

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