The Weekly Update

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Who Is This All For? (Hint: It’s for Them)

When friends ask me what I do for a living, I say that I work for an organization that is trying to help fix the country -- to achieve healthy self-governance. One of the common responses I get to this is “Ha! Good luck with that!” This response makes perfect sense to me. We are a long, long way from achieving healthy self-governance. While the members of the Bridge Alliance are making very real gains everyday to improve civic engagement, electoral system reform, and governance and policy making, the path to true healthy self-governance is most likely a generation away.   

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More Diversity, More Grassroots Connections for Bridge Alliance

This week, the Bridge Alliance Education Fund hosted our second Summit where Bridge Alliance members connect with others in the democracy field and explore opportunities to collaborate.  We kicked off the day with an inspiring message from team member, Shakira Mills, who reminded us why we do our work — to leave a better country and world for our children. Her new daughter, Kennedi, is three weeks old and made her democracy field debut.  We were then serenaded with two songs from the show Hamilton; “My Shot” and “In the Room Where it Happened.” We asked the participants to identify their own “shot” and to share their stories, their vision of America for the future. 

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Policy Making Isn’t Just For Legislators (Civic Engagement Update)

At the Bridge Alliance Education Fund, we tend to call this movement to revitalize the United States the “democracy movement” -- a reference to our nation’s form of government. This description, of course, isn’t as precise as it could be. We do not live in a pure democracy. Instead, we vote for representatives to enact and shape policy on our behalf. On the other hand, it is understood that representatives often take cues from their constituents. Therefore, having an informed citizenry that understands the policy making process is important for healthy self-governance in our country, regardless of how we label our form of government. (Technically, we live in a Federal Constitutional Republican Representative Democracy).

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Encourage Your Friends to #ListenFirst on #ListenFirstFriday

Featured Blog Post: Young people aren’t the problem with civic participation. We’re the solution. Sign up for The Fulcrum; nonpartisan news coverage of the democracy reform movement! Because you are a Bridge Alliance supporter, I suspect you’re pretty good at listening to and understanding different perspectives (which is different from agreeing!). After all, nearly ⅓ of the Bridge Alliance is dedicated to bridging ideological divides. But, if you’re like me, your social media timelines are filled with angry rants about current events -- which is understandable given the toxicity of today’s politics.

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Grassroots Efforts Across the Nation

The Bridge Alliance approaches reform with a 10,000 foot perspective -- i.e. a nationwide, all-systems approach. However, that doesn’t mean that we ignore grassroots efforts. After all, most Bridge Alliance member organizations have some type of grassroots component, which take place at locales throughout the nation. For instance, from 2015-2018, Cities of Service’s “Love Your Block” provided technical assistance, funding, and volunteer services to six cities from coast to coast. The cities used these resources to revitalize lower income neighborhoods, with an emphasis on rejuvenating abandoned properties that had turned into hubs of illegal activities. Importantly, Americorps VISTA volunteers in each city reached out to underrepresented members of the community to ensure their voices were heard during planning and implementation. Cities of Service has been running this program since 2009 and has already chosen cities for its program through 2020.

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New Award to Honor (and Fund!) Reformers (Elections Update)

In case you didn’t know, there are a few important elections coming up next year. The results of those elections will go a long way toward determining your representatives for the next ten years. In other words, it’s critical that you have the opportunity to cast your vote and that your vote matters. To help make that happen, Bridge Alliance members RepresentUs and Unite America have teamed up with strategic partner NANR to present the first ever Accelerator Awards. The Accelerator Awards will offer recognition, funding, and strategic support to “reform campaigns that increase participation, competition, and accountability in our political system.”

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(One) America Declares Its Independence! And lots of opportunities to get involved.

First of all, we would like to congratulate Bridge Alliance member One America Movement for its new status as an independent non-profit organization. This is a significant step for an already powerful organization working towards building a society rooted in connections. You can learn more about their work on their website. Second, I was browsing through Member e-newsletters and was struck by the number of options that exist for people to get involved in the democracy reform movement. A sampling of these opportunities are laid out below in two categories: (1) events and (2) digital calls to action.

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Take a Hike! (We mean that in the best possible way)

The Bridge Alliance family would like to pay its respects to the friends and families of those who lost their lives in the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. We would also like to commemorate and thank the brave souls who put their lives on the line to save the lives of others. On August 6th of this year, activist Renaldo Pearson began a 50 day, 600 mile walk from Atlanta, GA to Washington, D.C. The trek, which is being sponsored by Democracy911, is part of the fight that RepresentUs is leading against corruption in our government. Once he arrives at the Capitol building, Renaldo will demand action from our nation’s leaders. You can follow Renaldo’s journey here. And if you are in the D.C. area and want to join Renaldo for the end of his walk on September 20th and 21st, you can do so by signing up here.

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Get Into the (Civic) Spirit! The Bridge Alliance Welcomes Another!

For me personally, it’s always exciting to hear that yet another respected organization has accepted its invitation to join the Bridge Alliance. It’s even more exciting when it’s an organization that I was already familiar with and admired. That has happened quite a few times since I joined the Bridge Alliance family a couple of years ago, and it happened again last week.

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