Casting a ballot is just the beginning.
This may come as a surprise to some folks, but in most states there’s two elections, every year, rain or shine. Surprised? Well, this might be an even bigger “oh sh*t” moment for you: in between the elections there’s plenty of things to do in the community that’ll position you as a civic engagement champion. Here’s five of them off the top of my head:
Organize Voter Registration Drives:
Don’t assume that your next door neighbor, best friend or pastor is registered to vote. Be that guy or gal who’s always beating the drum about politics, voter registration and civic engagement. I’m cool with being that guy, in fact I’m the PA State Coordinator for Black Youth Vote and just last month I organized co-organized Drum Duel, a drum competition in Philadelphia’s City Hall where the winner was decided by ballot – we also registered plenty of people to vote. Voter registration doesn’t have to be an all-day, less than exciting task, it can be quite fun if you have the right team.
Build Public-Private Partnerships:
Having the right team to execute any type of civic engagement activity may require associates in government who can tap into resources and networks that you can’t. Building public-private partnerships – between either businesses and government offices or communities and government officials – are smart ways to get things done that increase both the quality of life for residents and the marketability of the City.
Organize a Town Watch or Police Civilian Oversight Initiative:
I don’t know of any town or city that doesn’t have a problem with either crime or police misconduct. And seeing as how government can’t – and shouldn’t – solve all of the problems, aggregating bold, passionate and fearless individuals into a network of focused eyeballs can go a long way in improving community-police relations and creating safer places to live, work and play.
Publish a Blog about the People, Places, Things and Issues Happening in your Neighborhood:
My work with Techbook Online – the largest and most active publisher in Comcast’s Project Open Voice, a national initiative to strengthen local content – has illuminated the role that storytelling plays in connecting citizens and communities to one another. When citizens are armed with information about the issue impacting cities and towns and have connections to residents who share their values, they can do more than participate in the political process, they can change it for the better.
Become a Mentor:
Ensuring the next generation is equipped with the skills, perspectives, networks and assets to survive and thrive as our doctors, social innovators, businessmen, lawyers, politicians, labor workers, activists and newsmakers will require more than a degree, it’ll take an intentional knowledge transfer and formal and informal mentoring sessions from individuals with a reputable track records, sufficient experience and social and political clout. If you’re that person, take a young person in the community under your wing and teach them everything you know, because the most successful people are those who have successors.
In closing, voting on Election Day is a big deal and I encourage everyone to head to the polls and make your voice heard. I also will urge you to consider becoming a civic engagement champion, because is the real, most memorable work takes place after Election Day.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™