Pages tagged "Featured Blog"

Outsiders and Communities: Comparing Immigration and Gentrification

By Michael D. Purzycki. Reposted from

Change is a constant in the United States, including changes in population demographics. Whether it is immigrants arriving on our shores, or Americans moving from one part of the country to another, our history is full of people who are unsatisfied with their conditions, and who decide to settle somewhere else. As common as such change has been for centuries, though, when it happens rapidly, in ways that appear to upend longstanding social and cultural norms, it can easily produce a backlash. We are certainly seeing that today.

In our time, the issues of immigration and gentrification lead to fierce arguments, with both touching on sensitive subjects like race, class, community, jobs and money. Both trends are sadly effective at conjuring up stereotypes, whether of shiftless Hispanics stealing jobs from natives and making no effort to learn English, or callous white yuppies invading low-income black neighborhoods, jacking up prices with their expensive tastes, and forcing longtime residents to move. On some level, we know that these stereotypes are unfair, and that when we take a deep breath and step back for a more objective look, we will find these issues are a lot more complicated. But in the heat of an impassioned debate, it is all too easy to fall back on our presumptions, especially about people not like us and about whom we don’t really know all that much.

Blocking Critics on Twitter: What Congress Should Know

By Anthony Marcum. Reposted from RStreet.Org.

Good news, D.C.: August recess is around the corner. For many, it is a time to escape the Beltway for some much sought-after R&R. For members of Congress, it is a time to return home and meet with constituents in their districts’ many town halls, festivals and county fairs.

In politically charged times, these events can sometimes turn combative. Questions concerning immigration policy or the president’s rhetoric may overshadow the talking points that members of Congress have in mind. During these events, protesters may need to be removed. To limit coverage, press may even be barred from attending.

Playtesting: A New Cast Your Vote is On The Way

Reposted from

Before any of our games and digital tools are released as final products, we let real students in real classrooms experience them through playtesting. As soon as we get a playable build, we have the first playtest. The feedback from this exercise is critical in helping the game development team tweak and improve the final product. 

Our Director of Digital Learning, Carrie Ray-Hill, most recently experienced a playtest for our game, Cast Your Vote, which is getting a redesign that will be released in October. In the upgrade, Cast Your Vote has been completely re-imagined and challenges players to be informed voters in new ways. Using the tools at their disposal, players will be able to research candidates and propositions for an upcoming municipal elections — to uncover where they stand on the issues. Through a series of town halls and voting apps, players develop a sense of civic duty to prepare to vote as they watch Election Day come into view. 

How a Hijab-Wearing Muslim and a MAGA Hat-Wearing Conservative Formed a Friendship

Reposted from

Amina Amdeen is a Muslim who wears a hijab. She’s been in situations where people have tried to remove her hijab from her head. So when she saw a group of protestors trying to light conservative Joseph Weidknecht on fire and snatch a Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat from his head, she took swift action to defend him.

The event took place at a march protesting the election of Donald Trump in Austin, Texas, in 2016. The two somewhat unlikely friends tell their tale on StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization that records conversations between two participants, often with the theme of bridging political divides.

“I don’t think we could be any further apart as people, and yet it was just kinda like this common, 'That’s not okay,’ moment,” Weidknecht said.

A Place to Go and a Place to Stand: Can Democracy Save Itself?

(Note: This is an original article by Evelyn Messinger of Digital Citizen)

The Internet has undeniably expanded the voices of individuals and groups in our political discourse. And yet, the role of the citizen seems to be diminishing even as the power of the individual grows. Like many of you reading this post, I thought the Internet would foster a powerful and engaged citizens’ consensus that could moderate toxic political discourse. It has done the opposite, by helping to create today’s stark political divide. And although we are at a crossroads between danger and opportunity, I believe there is reason to expect that the Internet will still get us to a more perfect democracy.

This is an exciting moment. Scores of new organizations are emerging that support civility and resist poison partisanship. One activist calls this new effort “the Healthy Democracy Movement.” It pinpoints two specific areas that can be addressed to bring public participation in civil dialogue to the next level, and perhaps to the scale necessary to help solve today’s crisis of citizenship.

7 Ways for Teens to Get Involved in Politics

Posted by Hannah Briggs. Reposted from

Staring down an election year is daunting enough, but knowing that you won’t be able to head to the polls adds another layer of anxiety. Luckily, though, there are things you can do to get involved with politics as a teenager without casting a ballot.

With minor elections around the corner and the General election swiftly approaching next year, it can be frustrating for young people who want to make their voices heard. Sure, you want to join the youth voter movement, but you’re too young to register or vote this year. Staring down an election year is daunting enough, but knowing that you won’t be able to head to the polls adds another layer of anxiety. Luckily, though, there are things you can do to get involved with politics as a teenager without casting a ballot.

Why you don't vote.

By Ethan Somers. Reposted from

Voting in America is complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.

In 2014, just 37% of people turned out to elect 36 Senators and 435 Representatives to office. Two years later during the highly publicized presidential election, only 61% of Americans took the opportunity to make their voice heard. While that may sound bad, the numbers seem even worse when we look at comparable countries. Out of the Organization for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD) countries (essentially a group of economically developed, democratic nations), the United States comes in 26th out of 32. That’s not the leading presence we normally imagine when talking about our country.

The Case for National Service

By Randy Lioz. Reposted from

The generation that came of age during the Great Depression and helped to carry not just this country, but the developed world, through the Second World War, was deemed by Tom Brokaw to be “the greatest generation any society has ever produced,” and our reverence for their sacrifices has indeed led us to assign them the “Greatest Generation” title almost officially.

We remember their sacrifices not only in terms of the soldiers who gave their lives in the war, but also in terms of our entire society’s mass mobilization. Their experience at home was defined by rationing of raw materials, scrap drives, victory gardens, and a major emergence of women in the workforce, which created a major shift in social patterns going forward.

Geo-Locating Protests And Tech's Role In Advancing Movements, Part II

Reposted from

In this last installment of the Rewiring Democracy blog series, we’ll explore how technology can be used to create new opportunities for people to connect and work together. Take a look at “Geo-Locating Protests Part I,” which discusses how new technologies can be employed to organize movements and foster community engagement.


The technology of geo-location, or geo-fencing, relies on the fact that many smartphone applications track our physical locations, and many social media platforms recommend or require our mailing addresses. It is becoming difficult to hide where we are and where we live.

How to Avoid an ALL CAPS Screaming Match: 5 Tips for Productive Debate

By Albert Navarra. Reposted from

Hemingway said, “The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.” What does “the world” actually mean? It could mean macro issues, like human rights, social and economic policies, and international peace and prosperity. If you care about these issues, they are certainly worth promoting through sound argument. But “the world” can also mean your world, in an individual sense—for example, your health, your work, and your relationships. These issues affect you directly and are worth improving through sound argument. So when you think about it, there are as many reasons to argue as there are to live. Your life itself is an argument, a statement of your beliefs, values, and what is important to you, and as such, is worth doing well.

It’s important to note, that true argument, the kind of discourse that advances your perspective through logic and reason, is not a screaming match. It’s not an ALL CAPS free-for-all in the comments section. To argue is not to fight.

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