The bucket list for involved citizens: 76 things you can do to boost civic engagement

Rebecca Winthrop and Meg Heubeck Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Civic engagement is the glue that holds self-government together. Yet civic participation and engagement has been on the decline for several decades. Therefore, each and every one of us must be as active and involved in our community and country as possible. Self-government is hard work and requires effort. Action is essential to maintaining the foundations of our democracy, no matter which political party happens to be in power.

To be a truly involved citizen, we must reconnect with our founding documents. We must learn and practice the skills of civic participation beginning with voting and moving onto legislating, speaking out, and building coalitions to solve problems on the local, state, and federal levels.


THE “DEMOCRACY 76” CHECKLIST

Stay informed

1. Read and subscribe to daily local, regional, or national newspapers. Check out Allsides.com for news from conservative, liberal, and centrist points of view.
2. Facts matter: Is your news source trustworthy? Check out these non-partisan, nonprofits: factcheck.org and University of Virginia’s Center for Politics’ Youth Leadership Initiative’s media literacy tips.
3. Fill your pocket with democracy. Pick up pocket-sized constitutions for as little as $1.
4. Get the facts on any politician or political candidate at the nonpartisan Votesmart.org.
5. Talk with someone who doesn’t share your political views. BetterAngels.org is helping people do this all across the country.
6. Attend a discussion or event in your community or school about an issue you want to know more about.
7. Shadow a public servant for the day to learn how our institutions work.
8. Visit a museum. Learn about local, regional, and national history, and about those who have taken civic action in the past.
9. Visit a library. Librarians can point you to important books on our American democracy.
10. Deep dive into the constitution. The National Constitution Center has an interactive line-by-line breakdown.
11. Use a highlighter when reading news articles to note points of interest, subjects that you agree/disagree with, or questions that you would like to know more about.

Vote

12. Vote: Local, state, and national elections matter! Find out when elections are happening from U.S. Vote Foundation.
13. Make sure you’re registered to vote at Vote.gov or use Turbovote.org for quick and easy registration.
14. Make a voting pact with your friends or family. Collectively commit to register and vote. Remind each other regularly. Make a plan to go to the polls together!
15. Volunteer to register voters. League of Women Voters in your area is a great resource for running voter registration drives.
16. If you are a boss, give your employees time off to vote. If you are an employee, ask your boss to consider this.
17. Volunteer to work at a polling place. To find out how, go to the Election Assistance Commission’s website or contact your local registrar.
18. Offer to drive elderly voters or those without transportation to the polls.
19. If you own a business, offer discounts to people who provide proof of voting on election days. If you work at a business, ask your boss to consider this.
20. Prepare to vote by checking ahead of time what is on the ballot, your polling place, and what you need to bring. Many states require identification such as a license or passport.
21. If you are voting by absentee ballotpay attention to deadlines and follow all the steps in the instructions.
22. Mark the date when voter registration ends on the calendar along with the dates for each election. Leave time in the day for getting to the polls.

Participate

23. Communicate with your elected officials to share your views on issues you care about. A letter, phone call, or visit are still the best ways to contact them.
24. Write an op-ed or letter to an editor.
25. Attend a city council or community board meeting. The National League of Cities can help describe its function.
26. Advocate for civic education in schools. Not all states require it, and you can join the CivXNow campaign to push for it.
27. Join a political campaign. Volunteer for your preferred candidate.
28. Become an ambassador supporting digital citizenship education by signing up with DigCitConnect.
29. Join the Parent-Teacher Association at your local school.
30. Get involved with the local school board. The National School Boards Association has good tips on how to engage.
31. Join a political party. Here is a list of all the political parties, what they stand for, and how to get involved.
32. Run for office. If you don’t like the candidates you are choosing from, put on your shoes and run for office.

Build community

33. Identify a problem in your community and work with your neighbors to fix it. Neighborhood street sweeps and playground refurbishment are just two examples.
34. Plant a tree or garden in your community.
35. Share the #WeThePurple Teacher Toolkit with teachers in your community for good ideas on civic engagement activities for young people.
36. Volunteer to serve as an officer or member of a group in your community. Volunteer Match can help you connect to groups in your area.
37. Visit someone else’s place of worship.
38. Keep watch on children who play in your neighborhood.
39. Paint a mural in a public space (with permission).
40. Pick up trash in your or someone else’s neighborhood.
41. Start a book club and invite your neighbors to participate.
42. Serve as a juror. If you are called for duty, remember our judicial system can’t work without citizen jurors.
43. Collect food for those in need.
44. Visit a nursing home or hospital.
45. Donate blood or plasma.
46. Take a first aid class. The American Red Cross can help prepare you to help those in need.
47. Clean up the local park.
48. Clean up a local river or lake.
49. Start a bowling league or another activity that you enjoy that might bring people together.
50. Help others in an emergency.
51. If you own a gun, participate in a gun safety course.
52. Host or be an exchange student. Rotary Youth Exchange is a good place to begin.
53. Shop local and support small businesses.
54. Contribute financially to a cause, even $5 can help. Charity Watch is a good place to start if you need help identifying organizations to support.
55. Support the teachers at your local school. Ask how you can help and consider starting with supporting classroom projects through DonorsChoose.org.
56. Volunteer at a museum.
57. Volunteer at a public library.
58. Volunteer at a pantry, soup kitchen, or food bank.
59. Volunteer at a community garden.
60. Volunteer to coach a youth sports team.
61. Volunteer to lead a youth group.
62. Volunteer at a community center.
63. Volunteer to help veterans. The USO is a good place to start.
64. Volunteer to help teachers. Chaperone school trips to the local city hall and share your experiences engaging with your community and government.
65. Do a year of service. Serviceyear.org can help you connect to thousands of opportunities to develop real-world skills while giving back to your community.
66. Choose to work at a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping others.
67. Become a substitute teacher.

Get social

68. Host or attend a debate watch party in your community or university.
69. Host a Purple Conversation with family, friends, or in your school or community to discuss ways to foster civic engagement. Use the tips on facilitating open dialogue from Living Room Conversations.
70. Follow and like #WeThePurple across social media.
71. Host a picnic or block party in your neighborhood and (respectfully) talk about your views.
72. Use your consumer power to support companies whose values you believe in.
73. Go out and talk to people, use your hands, and your time.
74. Invite friends and neighbors to watch a documentary on a topic affecting your community.
75. Use your social media accounts to post uplifting information relevant to making our society more civil. The University of Virginia has a helpful guide on civil discourse when talking about politics.
76. Recruit a friend and start checking off items in the “Democracy 76” checklist together!

Read More Here: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/education-plus-development/2019/11/12/the-bucket-list-for-involved-citizens-76-things-you-can-do-to-boost-civic-engagement/

Legislators Talk Bills With ALN – April 8th, 2019

April 8_2019 ALN Annual Meeting Newport This Week

The Alliance for a Livable Newport (ALN) held its annual meeting on April 8, with the emphasis on “livable.”

By ohtadmin | on April 11, 2019By James Merolla

Mayor Jamie Bova, City Councilors Justin McLaughlin and Angela McCalla, School Committee member Louisa Boatwright, Sen. Dawn Euer (D-District 13 Jamestown/ Newport), Rep. Lauren Carlson (D-District 75/Newport) and Rep. Marvin Abney (D-District 73) spoke of their priorities and what they might mean for the city.

Topics ranged from short-term rentals to long-term economic school solutions. Although there were few real answers, some bills are coming to the fore on Smith Hill that may make a difference locally.

Carlson said she was introducing a bill on April 9 to regulate Airbnb, the site that lists short-term rentals nationally.

“The first step in requiring registration of Airbnb municipalities is recognizing them,” she said. “Then, once they are delineated, you can regulate them, tackling issues like parking, zoning, legality, and then taxing them appropriately.”

Of the other major issues facing Newport, she mentioned bridge realignment and Rogers High.

Euer said she is working on legislation that would create regional school districts. “How do we bring Middletown to the table?” she asked.

Her bill would essentially create a county-based school district, but it needs to be fully worked out, citing difficulties that faced Chariho and Bristol-Warren.

She is revisiting the funding formula for schools and how to make sure it is equitable, “across the state.” She is also championing a student loan regulation bill, rolled out two weeks ago.

“It’s a huge financial crisis in our country,” she said. “Students are left with a bill that they have no hope in paying off. This is an effort to allow us to really regulate this at a state level.”

She is also investigating the possible remapping of state flood zones, affected by climate change.

“There’s only one bill that I would be concerned with and that’s the state budget,” Abney said. “If a bill is passed, and there’s a cost tied to it, it is my responsibility to make sure it fits into the tax breakdown of this [budget].

“Right now, we are trying to work our way out of a $150 million-plus deficit,” he said. “We can’t continue to borrow money into the future. I have to take a keen interest in what the taxpayers have to say. What do Rhode Islanders really want? What will you tolerate?”

Boatwright asked how the legislature can help raise money for school bonds with limited Newport options like property tax revenue.

Carlson said she once introduced legislation “to raise our hotel and our meal tax.”

“The City Council did this, I introduced it, but it never happened,” she said. “They don’t want to see a higher meal tax in Newport, as they do in Middletown. They want a steady meal tax. This is basically where our money is coming from. People who are paying the meals tax are probably not from Newport. We should pursue that aggressively. Let them pay $1 on a $100 meal. I don’t see a big problem with that.”

Euer said Jamestown considers its schools, “a community project, [but] in Newport not so much.” She added, “I do see our schools as a community project.”

“It’s all about leadership,” said Abney. “At the state level, all the way down to the superintendent. If you don’t have good leadership, every other year, someone new is going to change the direction of the education system. Massachusetts chose their direction years ago and stuck to it. You have to have a plan and follow it through for a number of years. You can’t turn it around in a year.”

Carlson is introducing a bill to expand training for planning and zoning boards. She said she had HDCS in the original draft of the bill, but took it out, calling it too much at this time.

“We need to standardize how Historic District Commissions operate so they can understand the consequences of their decisions,” she said.

https://www.newportthisweek.com/articles/legislators-talk-bills-with-aln/

PUBLIC FORUM – Students of Newport Public Schools Speak Out

  • DATE: Tuesday, May 1st
  • TIME: 6-7:30 PM
  • LOCATION: Claiborne Pell Elementary School | 35 Dexter Street, Newport, RI.

A Public Forum Presented by the One Newport NPS Strategic Plan Subcommittee And Alliance for Livable Newport (ALN)

Listen to our Thompson and Rogers School students talk about their future aspirations and
the roles education and the community play in making life choices. Here’s an opportunity to
understand the perspectives of Newport’s young people as they navigate technology, social
media, classroom traditions, extracurricular activities, family pressures and a rapid change in
the labor market.


You have heard from the Newport City Council and the School Committee, and about the
Newport Public Schools’ Strategic Plan. Now is the time to hear from our most important
educational constituents.

Panelists:
Students from Rogers High School and Thompson Middle School

If you could ask them a question what would it be? Now is your opportunity.

Questions may be submitted via email before the forum or in writing the night of the event.
info@newportalliance.org

You do not have to be present at the forum to have your question chosen.

The One Newport Subcommittee is a group of volunteers who are committed to helping improve the Newport Public Schools.

They believe that a superior educational system is critical not only for the children of Newport but also for the future of the City.

For over 10 years, the Alliance for a Livable Newport (ALN) has promoted and enhanced the quality
of life in its city by providing an unbiased resource for information on issues facing our community.

CONTACT For Immediate Release: April 13, 2018
Isabel Griffith, Co-President
Alliance for a Livable Newport
Igriffith38@verizon.net
401.849-6444

Gateway Center Updates Forum – Nov. 28th @ 6:30pm – 23 America’s Cup Ave, Newport, RI 02840

 

Alliance for a Livable Newport to Hold Community Forum on Planned Improvements to the Newport Transportation and Visitors Center

The Alliance for Livable Newport (ALN) will host a Community Forum and Information session on the upcoming improvements to the Newport Transportation and Visitors Center (Gateway Center).  The forum will be held on Monday, November 28 at 6:30 pm, in the lobby of the Transportation and Visitors Center on America’s Cup Avenue.

Representatives of the team leading the effort will discuss the planned work, provide renderings of the upcoming project, and answer questions from the audience.  The construction and restoration work will include improvements to parts of the Transportation and Visitors Center damaged by Hurricane Sandy, as well as the installation of Green Infrastructure to assist in storm water runoff management. 

gateway-center

Lillian Picchione, Director of Capital Development of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), will lead the presentation.  RIPTA is the state agency working with the City of Newport on this project.   Picchione will be joined by colleagues from RIPTA who have worked with Newport City officials on the plan; representatives of the Newport City Council; and Evan Smith, President and CEO of Discover Newport and the Newport Transportation and Visitors Center.  Representatives from W.E. Marchetti Consulting, LLC (consultants on the project) and Newport’s Northeast Collaborative Architects (architects who worked on the project), will also be available to answer questions from the audience.

The purpose of the Transportation and Visitors Center Exterior Repair and Resiliency Project is to restore overhead protection for the hundreds of thousands of people who each year pass through the Newport intermodal transit and tourist facility on America’s Cup Avenue in Newport.  The project is also intended to make the structure more resilient to future storms, and to include installation of green infrastructure to improve drainage and assist with storm water runoff.  

RIPTA was awarded federal funding for the repairs and improvements to cover 90% of the roughly $6 million project.  The city of Newport is providing the 10% matching funds to complete the project.   For more information on the project, go to http://www.ripta.com/newport-gateway-center.

2016 Newport City Council Candidates Survey Responses

*An “embedded version of the survey” is shown below – however, different browsers and computers may require 2 different SCROLLING bars to view the all the results – so we recommend viewing these responses by clicking the first link above!

***Notice 2 tabs! (2 different views of the surveys >>

  1. “Question Summaries” tab allows you to view each question with ALL of the candidates responses to that question
  2. “Individual Responses” tab allows you to select a candidate and view that candidate’s responses to all of the questions.”

“ALN Announces Local Public Candidate Forums and Online Questionnaires”

NEWPORT LOCAL ELECTIONS – NOVEMBER 2016 –
NEWPORT CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES – NEWPORT SCHOOL COMMITTEE CANDIDATES TO ADDRESS KEY ISSUES IN PUBLIC FORUMS

For over 10 years, the ALLIANCE FOR A LIVABLE NEWPORT (ALN) has worked to promote and enhance the quality of life in Newport by providing an unbiased resource for information on issues facing our community.

In this year of Newport Municipal Elections ALN has developed questions designed to help voters decide about their choices for City Council and School Committee. As in the past several years the questions and answers can be viewed on the ALN website at newportalliance.org.

The two questionnaires, one for City Council candidates and one for School Committee candidates, can be examined by viewing each candidate’s responses to all the questions or by focusing on a question and seeing all the candidates’ responses to that question.

Be a confident, savvy voter! There are a number of new names on the candidate lists. We hope our questions and their answers will be an important addition to the information you need about local elections to make informed choices.

October 4, 2016
Newport First Ward City Council Candidates
6:30 at the MLK Center
Martin Luther King Community Center
20 Dr. Marcus F. Wheatland Blvd.
Newport, RI 02840

October 11, 2016
Newport At Large City Council Candidates
6:30 in the Council Chamber at City Hall
43 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840, Second Floor

October 18, 2016
Newport School Committee Candidates
6:00 at the Pell School Cafetorium
35 Dexter St, Newport, RI 02840, First Floor

ALN Issues Apology Letter for Casino Forum

Letter to the Editor for Isabel Griffith, President of the Alliance for a Livable Newport.

To the Editor,

Father Eugene McKenna
far right; Father Eugene McKenna

On September 13, Alliance For A Livable Newport, in keeping with its mission of providing unbiased information on issues of importance to Newport residents, property owners and businesses, sponsored a forum on the Casino Table Games question that will appear on the November election ballot. Our intent was to present a level playing field of information with a speaker in favor of allowing Newport Grand to add table gambling games to their present slot machine gambling, a speaker against the proposal and a third speaker to present an unbiased review of the economic issues.

Two of our three goals were met with Diane Hurley ably presenting the case in favor of expanded gambling and Father Eugene McKenna ably presenting arguments against the expansion. Unfortunately, the third speaker, URI Professor Edward Mazze, presented only the pro-gambling side of the economic picture. That was not our intent and we apologize to our audience, those in the CCRI auditorium and those viewing subsequently on Public Access TV and on ALN’s website, and especially to Father McKenna for putting him at a disadvantage on the forum panel.

On the plus side, the majority of members of the live audience demonstrated through their questions and comments during the Q&A session following the panel’s prepared remarks that they were opposed to any expansion of gambling in Newport. That restored some balance to the evening.

We want to assure ALN’s followers that we will make every effort to maintain a level playing field for critical and controversial issues at future ALN forums.

Sincerely,

Isabel Griffith

President, Alliance for a Livable Newport

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