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My Fellow Citizens,

Who is ready for 2020?!?! 🤦‍♀️

We are only two weeks into 2019 and the whole system seems to be on the verge of the 2020 election. Yikes!

This is why the New Year’s resolutions discussed by the team at Five Thirty Eight looked like such a good idea. We posted their resolutions to our Facebook page and asked you what resolutions we should make as leading members of an informed citizenry.

One resolution showed up on all the lists:

It’s time for each of us to manage our attention like it’s as valuable to us as it is to Facebook (and maybe Russia). 

For our list, however, it isn't quitting social media that's tricky. The trickiest part is finding other channels to stay connected to the ideas that matter and the issues withering away without the attention they need. How are you managing the attention you give to public issues?

A few additional resolutions might help us think more about how we are allocating our attention:

You can seek out substantive journalism and pay for a subscription or two. It's time to subscribe to good journalism like paying for quality news is a twenty-first century civic duty. 

You might commit to more closely follow an issue that matters to you. Instead of passively finding that news via a social feed that algorithms determine for you, cultivate a strategy for following specific publications or influencers on their preferred channels. This increases the odds that you will hear their call for action when there is still time to influence a decision. 

[If you have more ideas about resolutions to support an informed citizenry for 2020, there is still time to add those to Facebook (here) or to share helpful resources in the Learning Studio (here).] 

The work of an informed citizenry is as complicated as ever. Let's talk more about how to best do this job in the crazy, fragmented and chaotic news environment we all live in today. 


Let's think together soon,

Questions of Civic Proportions

What are we not talking about when we race from one headline to the next?
Join the Conversation

(share your answers in our learning community)

The limits of Executive Power and why it matters.  

There is no quicker path to burn out than trying to follow the shutdown, the wall and the crisis / not-a-crisis at our southern border. If you slow it down for a moment, we have an opportunity to talk seriously about the nature and limits of executive power as well as the responsibilities of co-equal branches of government.

The facts of the shutdown too easily give way to the political posturing replayed on cable news while there’s a real debate about the nature of a President’s emergency powers that could occupy the public mind instead.

This is the moment when those terms of limited power and co-equal branches are relevant with real consequences that are sure to make the news tomorrow. 

The hard truth about how we talk about women running for office.

Elizabeth Warren recently announced her run for the presidency. Everything that comes next sounds painfully familiar.

Much of the criticism of her as a candidate will sound like the criticism of Hillary Clinton. Peter Beinart makes a plea for the media to recognize, understand and incorporate what we know from academic research:
"What all this ignores is the harsh truth that when women politicians—especially women politicians who embrace a feminist agenda—overtly seek power, many American men, and some American women, react with “moral outrage.” They may not express that outrage in explicitly gendered terms, just as they may not express their anxiety about a black candidate in explicitly racial terms. They may instead cite DNA testing or hidden emails or San Francisco’s cultural liberalism. Or they may simply say they find the candidate’s mannerisms off-putting."

This might be the issue that's worth paying attention to so you can help us all do better. 

The radicalness and risk that accompany moments of change.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute cancelled a gala and rescinded the award they intended to give to Angela Davis that night. Davis would have received the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award except that her advocacy is not comfortably bound up in the pages of our past. This move unveiled a dangerous question that the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute was hardly prepared to answer. 

When is it okay to get extreme to call out human rights violations in your community or across the globe, who gets to decides and who is required to simply comply? 

If radicalness is a part of who we are and how we work, we risk a devastating loss by denying the worthiness of stories from people like Angela Davis. A piece in Newsweek last April, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Prophetic Last 31 Hours, sought to remind us all just how radical those final days were. One of the last marches King led had given way to violence and the man celebrated today for non-violent protest considered that time had run out on that proposition. 

*The "join the conversation" link above will take you to Politicolor's online learning studio where you will need to be a member to access the content. It's free so request an invite when you see that option.
Grab an Invite

Now available in the Learning Studio

  • Unlisted YouTube URL to see Will Harris's First Friday presentation at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum
  • Accompanying document, "Multiple Founding Paradigms / Constitutional Palimpsest"
  • Link to video replay of Thursday's online conversation

Good Work: Moriviví-- To Die and Live

An art collective of young women in Puerto Rico have adopted the name of one of the island’s most remarkable plants. When touched, the leaves of the moriviví plant roll up and look dead. It reopens only moments later to look as alive as ever. The muralists of the Moriviví Collective are helping the island manage its own rebirth after Hurricane Maria by bringing art, color and themes of resilience to public spaces.

Originally organized in 2013, the collective consisted of three young women finishing high school. They took on issues like gender-based violence, reproductive and sexual liberation, climate change, anti-Black racism, colonialism, and U.S. Neoliberalism. They now see themselves as part of a “larger revolutionary women’s movement taking hold in Puerto Rico.” They use brainstorming meetings with community members to decided the themes of their work and invite community members of all ages to join them when painting. 

Founding members—Chachi González, Joy Díaz Marty and Raysa Raquel Rodríguez García—believe their work is best when created “for the people and with the people.” Working together is a curative proposition:
“It’s healing for them and it’s also a form of empowerment for them. It shows them what they’re able to achieve when they have the tools to do so.”

If you thought of a friend who might enjoy one of the ideas you found here, please forward this email to them. Right now that's the best way to show your support for our work.

If you're that civic-minded friend, this button is for you. 
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