One of the most important roles this newspaper can play is to foster and support civic engagement throughout North Central Washington.
We believe in the value of bringing people together around ideas and possibilities, a philosophy which led us to develop the Community Connections project. Community Connections allows individuals to help build community by writing about topics they are passionate about, such as recovering from addiction, building a culture of conservation, appreciating local food, and transforming classroom education with technology, to name just a few.
It has been intriguing to read what these community leaders have produced and the project has definitely resonated with readers who, I presume, are weary of the less-than-civil nature of what passes for public dialogue these days and are eager to connect in more constructive ways. In that same vein, we are launching another important endeavor — a partnership with CityCllub of Seattle, an organization dedicated to building civic engagement throughout the state. CityClub is doing impressive work. They have created a Living Voters Guide — an interactive web site that allows citizens to present their ideas about election topics as well as engage with the ideas others who have different perspectives.
CityClub also sponsors the statewide Jefferson Awards, honoring outstanding civic volunteers and last year initiated a youth civic initiative — the Colleen Willoughby Youth Civic Education Awards. That award shines the light on successful civic education programs and they're taking nominations until June 24. Perhaps there are some worthy candidates in North Central Washington that ought to be recognized. CityClub also sponsors a variety of forums and discussions to bring people together.
These constructive efforts fit right in line with our philosophy of seeking ways to build stronger, more resilient communities and be at the center of important conversations.
Diane Douglas, CityClub's executive director, told me she sees civic engagement as "not a one-shot deal" but an approach that requires constant nurturing. She talked about growing up in a household where "being part of the community was always part of our life. It's how we were raised." CityClub seeks makes is connections between different parts of the community, she explained, "whether it's across political lines, professional sectors, nonprofits, businesses, universities or the government."
When she first got involved with CityClub a dozen years ago, she discovered a group of people who cared about what they could accomplish by working together. It was a refreshing approach and she has not lost any enthusiasm for the possibilities of civic engagement.
We'll be working with the folks at CityClub and others in North Central who would like to bring a constructive approach to engaging the community in important civic issues. It's worth checking out the CityClub web site, seattlecityclub.org.
Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement of a civic engagement center in Wenatchee to foster similar kinds of conversations.