Civic Engagement

Being proactive learners necessitates being active citizens, both politically or socially. While rarely easy, civic engagement can be exciting and empowering. With regard to learning, we can be moved by a variety of educational needs and interests in our families and in our communities, including:

• children having difficulty in school,
• children without access to good educational,
• young adults with continuing education needs,
• older working adults with commensurate educational needs,
• people with learning differences and special educational needs,
• foreign language students,
• finding or supporting alternative learning options,
• improving community educational options,
• enhancing libraries
• expanding access to technology

And so much more. But how do we act? When we have a need and don’t know where to turn; when we see a need and want to help fill it; when we want to reach our community representatives or legislators; when we want to speak out against an injustice or in support of a good effort – what do we do? Can we be effective? Can we possibly know enough to be useful? Is it even worth trying?

In Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging Times, author Paul Rogat Loeb writes,

…”The main distinction between those who participate fully in their communities and those who withdraw into private life doesn’t rest in the active citizens’ grasp of complex issues, or their innate moral strength. Instead, those who get involved view their place in the world very differently. They have learned specific lessons about approaching social change: that they don’t need to wait for the perfect circumstances, the perfect cause, or the perfect level of knowledge to take a stand; that they can proceed step by step, so that they don’t get overwhelmed before they start. They savor the journey of engagement and draw strength from its challenges. Taking the long view, they come to trust that the fruits of their efforts will ripple outward, in ways they can rarely anticipate.”

Whatever your interests, whatever your goals, for yourself or for your family, you can and should be actively involved in your choices. There are lots of resources, online and off, to help guide your efforts. Most importantly, you don’t have to go it alone – there are others out there, just like you, with similar needs, interests and concerns. It’s just a matter of connecting with one another to have your voice be heard, your efforts felt, the world made a little better.

Use the resources we’ve collected here to help you get started, engage with others on our forum and on our wiki, and let us know of others you find along the way. And as you journey, remember the words of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of. thoughtful people can make a difference,. in fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”

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