Discovery

What Julian Bond Had to Say about Non Voters and Wings on Frogs

What Julian Bond Had to Say about Non Voters and Wings on Frogs

By

Colleagues throughout the years have argued with me about non voters. I’ve heard it from teachers who answer the call to civic duty every day, grad students frustrated with apathetic communities and activists who spend their days knocking on doors asking for one simple act when the day comes. They all tell me that those who don’t vote have no right to complain. First I contemplate this right to complain. I know my colleagues are as true to the freedom of expression as they are to the responsibility of voting. This idea that anyone in the United States has surrendered…

Read More
Write for Politicolor

Write for Politicolor

By

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…

Read More
Reading List: The Warmth of Other Suns

Reading List: The Warmth of Other Suns

By

If you’ve ever taught the Civil Rights Movement or even had a conversation about it, there’s a book you should read. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson reminded me of one of my favorite classroom moments talking about the Movement. It also made me re-think what I taught while I was there. First, that classroom moment… It was Black History month and two of my students asked to interview me about the Civil Rights Movement for the morning’s video announcement program. This was not an easy question for me. I was not a subscriber to these (sometimes) empty…

Read More
Reading List: Longitude and How We Know

Reading List: Longitude and How We Know

By

We think KNOWING is so easy that we approach the unknowable with suspicion. Longitude by Dava Sobel and William J.H. Andrews is a worthwhile read if only to challenge the certainty of our suppositions. Modern precision is grounded in countless struggles with imprecision. Anyone who believes the modern world is a simple one should read Dava Sobel’s Longitude. Lucky for us, many of our modern luxuries make this historical puzzle of knowing your location an interesting story rather than a daily challenge. It’s as easy as an app on a smartphone, the right Google search string or clicking a city…

Read More
Citizen’s Conundrum: Dirt, Data and Digging Out

Citizen’s Conundrum: Dirt, Data and Digging Out

By

Now showing: “every utterance, every court filing, every public transaction, every burp, every miscue.” In an interesting read, Jack Shafer wonders about the state of our politics “now that we have dirt on everyone.” While some debate the power of the Internet to democratize even the most authoritarian regimes, we should consider its role in making our politics dirtier than ever. Shafer describes the shift by comparing a campaign’s opposition research to mining for gold: The past no longer matters to the political present the way it once did, because we have such better access to it today. Just 15…

Read More

Politics and Public Art

By

There’s something about public art that gets to the heart of Politicolor’s project. When Carlos Collejo offered a tour of L.A. murals to our National Academy group in 2009, he explained the people and the art meet in the streets through these works of art. In the short video, “The Battle for LA’s Murals,” a muralist suggests museums are for dead people. While that might be a bit extreme, the art we saw on the mural tour was electrified with what a community aspired to and accomplished alongside the challenges they faced, the conflicts they still carried on their shoulders…

Read More

A Theory of American Identity: Or the Radical American Exceptionalism: Or Why Baseball is Better than Soccer?

By

An abstract submitted for you consideration. Your questions and assistance in refining the ideas presented here would be greatly appreciated. (Submitted by Todd, National Academy alumni, 2001) Over the last year I have been contemplating the notion of American identity, and what that means.  As I contemplated the bounds of this notion, I began formulating a rather extreme form of American exceptionalism.    I see no way to avoid getting there, so I ask that Politicolor readers will help dispel it or create a more construct for this idea. I begin with a basic premise that the American founding experience is…

Read More
The Not So Radical American

The Not So Radical American

By

Watching William Gibson’s “No Maps for These Territories,” I found one brief moment in the film that resonated with a million other moments in time. The famous science fiction author wanted to describe his work and to explain why he has never seen himself as a visionary. He said we live in an incomprehensible present and his work attempts to illuminate it. His work brought light to better see the now rather than forecasting the future. That might be a way to describe our work at the National Academy and our discussions on Politicolor too. Civic education has to share…

Read More

The Wave, Human Nature, and Our Radical Evolution

By

Published in 2005, Joel Garreau’s Radical Evolution offers multiple perspectives on the future of human kind.  Interviewing world-class thinkers, engineers, and philosophers, the author examines not only our decisions, but our decision making process—for the heart of Garreau’s thesis maintains that human nature changes. We’ve all wondered whether we’re still part of that process.  Over the years, our species has gradually removed ourselves from the brutality of natural selection.  Americans, especially, have enjoyed long periods without significant culling; so do we yet evolve?  Garreau thinks so.  Physically, we create medicine that can alter our appearances and heal our wounds, while…

Read More

The Ballad of Detroit

By

In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jerod Diamond makes an interesting observation about peninsulas: the landform, much like an island, isolates a people. Peninsulas act as a force multiplier, granting a space easier defense, so that a polity might survive invasion by a much more powerful culture.  (Think: Hot Gates and Isthmus of Corinth.)  Conversely, a spit can bring the closed-culture of the Spartans.  (“Mommy..?  What is art?”  *SMACK!*  “Get back to your jumping-jacks!”)  It’s no coincidence that Europe retains hundreds of cultures as well as claim to the most devastating wars in history; the continent’s chock-full of peninsulas. I live on one.  In fact, Michigan…

Read More