Democracy Needs You! Even in St. Johns!
I understand. Most of the time, it may feel like we have no say in what happens in our country, state, or even local community. For sure a lot happens that we don’t have control over. But…sometimes, most times, we can exert some power. We may feel that money always wins out, that those with money always have more power than we do. It’s just not the case. One of my heroes, the journalist Bill Moyers, says: “The only answer to organized money is organized people.”
Over the past 5 years, I’ve worked on two very serious issues in St. Johns - getting 500 freight trucks a day off Fessenden/St. Louis and installing pedestrian crossing features, and incorporating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineers, and Math) project-building space in the remodel of Roosevelt High School. I have also advocated for city, state and federal initiatives. In all cases I learned that working with others, using a whole variety of advocacy/activist techniques, and being persistent - really, really persistent - can bring success. And, one thing is for sure - doing nothing means nothing will ever change.
“Democracy” is more than just electing people to represent you in decision-making and then forgetting about them until they do something you don’t like. It means being involved and understanding what’s going on. It means when something matters to you, do something about it. It means bringing to your elected officials your concern, and your understanding of that concern. And, I’m on a mission to show you how.
I’ve worked for public employment and training programs, been a teacher, and a librarian. Now I’m putting all my experience and background together to advocate for positive change in my community. Why? Because sitting back when people are being treated unfairly or when their basic needs aren’t being met, well, it infuriates me, frankly. I’m taking all my background and advocacy experience - combined with a desire to learn more about making change, thinking critically, and encouraging others to improve our common concerns -and I’ve created a series of workshops to “spread the word”...we are CITIZENS first, not consumers. ACTIVE citizens, not passive consumers.
The Civics for Adults Series includes workshops on: Citizen Advocacy 101, Misinformation and Political Propaganda, The Influence of the Constitution on Political Conversation, and Elections and Campaign Finance. These workshops have been hosted at libraries throughout Portland and have garnered interest from those interested to learn how to make their voices heard by community and political leaders.
If you would like to see more of these workshops in North Portland, “advocate” for yourself and your community by letting your library know. You can stop in to talk with the library managers for St Johns, Kenton and North Portland and/or contact Multnomah County Library’s Programming Manager, Terrilyn Chun, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Democracy is not a self-sustaining institution. It requires citizen participation. Elected leaders can only lead, and lead well, when there is two-way communication with citizens.
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen.”
-Justice Louis Brandeis
If you are interested in staying up-to-date on scheduled workshops while also hearing about some useful civic/political resources, join my Civics email list by sending me an email to email@example.com, or follow the Civics for Adults Facebook page.
You can also attend one of Donna's upcoming workshops listed below.
Citizen Advocacy 101 - Making Change Happen
Saturday, May 6th
Corvallis-Benton County Library
645 NW Monroe Ave, Corvallis
Misinformation and Political Propaganda
Learn how to become your own “fact checker”
Sunday, April 9th
801 SW 10th Ave, Portland
Saturday, April 22nd
Cedar Mill Library
12505 NW Cornell Rd, Portland
Sunday, April 30th
1:00-2:30pm and 3:30-5:00pm
West Linn Library
1595 Burns St., West Linn