Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement

Spring has always been the time when we break out of the doldrums of winter and the confines of the house and scratch in the soil, take on new projects, and feel more hopeful!  This spring is like that only more so. Breaking out of the doldrums of life with a renewed sense of urgency started earlier this year. Well before the change of the seasons people were asking “What can I do?” in their lives and in their communities to preserve what they may have temporarily taken for granted and to advance what they consider important.

Never in my long political career have I received more emails and read more social media accounts of people seeking answers about the direction of our country and what they can do to influence it. People who confess to me that they have never been involved in civic affairs want to volunteer, contribute, and make a difference. Veterans of volunteering in the community are heartened by the new energy to work on issues.

This sense of urgency comes primarily from events at the federal level; however, it has led to a closer examination of what goes on at the state, local, and community levels of governance. The response has been some of the largest gatherings of recent times. I took part in the Million Women’s March; it could not have been more uplifting. It turned out to be more of a protest than a march as there were too many people attending to be able to move around or walk.

Others have joined newly-formed organizations. Indivisible of Reston-Herndon that did not exist several months ago is drawing crowds of as much as 400 people willing to get involved in the community. A spin-off of that group—Community Matters—is determined to make a difference in the lives of people in the Reston Community. Established groups like the American Association of University Women and the League of Women Voters are realizing new interest and members.

In response to questions I receive as to what individuals can do, in March I set up a “What Can I Do: Civic Engagement Workshop.” Nearly 300 people came out to a middle school cafeteria to talk with representatives of 22 different organizations about what they could do to become involved. All organizations left with new volunteers.

Time to get out of the house for sure with the spring season! In addition to enjoying the outdoors and working to preserve it, join with the many others who will be working to make our community life better for everyone. Both experiences will make you feel better and raise your sense of hope.

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