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My Fellow Citizens,

I have had my head in the clouds this last week or two. I want to recommend you do the same! It turned out to be a good strategy for dodging crazy headlines but that’s not why I was there.

First, I re-visited one of my favorite pieces of political philosophy, Cicero's Dream of Scipio. Preparing for our first Civic Co-Lab, I combined that exercise with flipping through the pages of NASA | Art: 50 Years of Exploration. It's amazing to see what we believed we were capable of once we had walked on the moon. 

I also spent last week re-visiting the videos from Will Harris’s presentation and our subsequent conversation, “Constitutional Resurrection and the Unrepentant Redeemed.” So much more of what we accomplished came into view as I tried to organize a page of notes to share with our learning community

The perspective shift operated something like the warning on your passenger side mirror. The “objects” of our conversation are much larger and more impactful than it appeared to me that night. 

That experience reminded me of the first time I tried to explain the power of the Initiative for the New Constitution. I started with the suggestion that the magical ability to share “New Constitution Vision” with a crowd for just five minutes would make it impossible for anyone involved to return to their old way of seeing the world. Our conversation proved that to be true and ended with a couple of ways to start sharing that vision. 

On the verge of a new year, I am inclined to follow these moments of possibility. Our Civic Co-Lab this month is an invitation to adjust our gaze from elections, headlines and power grabs and to imagine what we could accomplish with a more civic perspective. 


What alternatives do we want to bring into being this next year?

I hope you will be able to join us for that event (more info here). Whether you have read Cicero’s Dream of Scipio a couple of times or have never heard of him before, there is space for you in the conversation. 

I hope you find the relaxation, big laughs, family fun or Netflix binge that you need from the Christmas season too. Have a good "space movie" to recommend?

Have a great holiday and let's think together soon,


Questions of Civic Proportions

How do we create a movement with imagination? One that has a vision for what the world properly ordered would look like?

Join the Conversation

(share your answers in our learning community)


Experiment. One California city has plans to pilot a “Universal Basic Income” program in 2019. A select number of families in Stockton, California will receive a monthly stipend of $500 for 18 months. Mayor Michael Tubbs has pointed to Martin Luther King Jr.’s book Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community and hopes the program will push back against stereotypes:
“We want to push back against those stereotypes, by highlighting the stories and putting a face to this narrative... It’s the mother who was able to pay for child care, it’s the student who was able to go to community college, the couple with credit card debt.”

Tell their stories. Vote Riders are pushing beyond the assumptions and statistics of voter ID. On their website you can find “Stories from real voters meeting-- and overcoming-- obstacles to obtaining voter ID.” It's human nature that stories are compelling in a way that statistics never are. Getting to know a real person who has sacrificed time and money that wasn't easy to give helps others see how the struggle for voting rights is as real today as it ever was.  

Connect people with what's possible. Several European cities are making it harder to drive a car into downtown. Realizing their cities are choked with pollution and automobiles they are looking for ways to introduce residents to other ways of getting around.

A car-free city center becomes a shared vision through smaller moments like Paris’s annual car-free day. For this single day, pedestrians have the right-of-way. The city’s deputy mayor explains the annual car-free day works to make “people aware of the issues, and show them that it’s possible actually to move within Paris without a car.” 

Keeping with the car-free theme and having a little fun with it...

There’s an annual effort in the states to re-imagine downtown parkings spaces as tiny urban parks. Does your city celebrate Park(ing) Day? Austin has joined the effort for a few years and all our local organizations adopt a parking space for the day. Cities all over the country participate each year, but the movement started in 2005:
"So one day in late September, the group found a parking space in a particularly gray part of downtown San Francisco, and converted it into a mini park. On what had once been concrete, they rolled out living grass, put up a bench, and placed a potted tree. Then they retreated across the street to observe the results, hoping their urban intervention was not an arrestable offense. Within minutes, a man sat down on the bench, took off his shoes, and began to eat lunch. Another person joined soon after, and the two began having a conversation. That’s when Bela and his collaborators knew they were on to something: 'We created an opportunity for social interaction that wasn’t there before.'"
Small acts of imagination can add up to big results.
*The "join the conversation" link above will take you to Politicolor's online learning community 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

What's next from the Initiative for the New Constitution?

Once again, we will work with our friends at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum to make video of this presentation available. The webcast conversation is scheduled for Thursday, January 10, 2019 at 7pm (eastern)

Good Work: Everything Old is New Again by Jen Sorensen

It all starts with this panel. Decades, countless lives and a statement about our tenuous commitment to individual liberty all happen in the three panels that come next. That’s a pen with some amazing power.

The Nib is a daily publication that catches headlines and head-scratchers in comics. Sometimes they are as hard to look at as the photographs accompanying the day's news. Sometimes they get straight to the point and make sure it gets all the attention it deserves. You start nodding in the affirmative with all the nod you have to give.

This comic from Jen Sorensen starts in 1945, incorporates one powerful question and packs a gut punch in the last panel. You will have to click through for that last scene but it all adds up to this resounding question: 

“If old garbage ideas are always up for debate, how do they ever get defeated?”

Get Questions of Civic Proportions

Will you please share this email with someone who has a good take on keeping a civic perspective? We would love to invite them to our walk through the stars with Scipio.

Copyright © 2018 Politicolor: The Stories of Political Life in Full Color, All rights reserved.

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