The Case Foundation has sponsored an initiative to bring often fractured communities together around a project or set of projects, calling it the "Make it Your Own Awards." From an applicant pool of nearly 5000, they have chosen 20 outstanding projects and left the voting on the top 4 (to receive additional grant money supporting the projects) to basically everyone on the Internet. A remarkable number of these projects center around education; those that don't are bringing communities together in new ways, most of which will ultimately benefit (you guessed it) education.
Why do I bring this up here? For a couple of reasons:
- First, the projects, including their top 100, are worth a read for any of us looking to organize our communities in meaningful ways around our schools. (Check out Re-Imagining our City, for example.)
- Secondly, they're using widgets to gather votes via social media outlets and most of you know that I've become a sucker for widgets.
- Finally, a local group (that's the widget I embedded here) called Hands Across North Quabbin made it into the top 20, and I just can't help but put in a plug for the folks who facilitated the strategic planning for our district (talk about bringing together a fractured community, and this was only one of the group's big efforts).
Regardless of who you vote for, though, take some time to think about what the Case Foundation calls "citizen-centered change."
Many Americans have turned away from politics and political institutions for the same reasons they have turned away from other civic institutions -- a sense that what they do matters little when it comes to the civic life and health of their communities or the country. Shifting to an approach that puts citizens at the center can be a powerful way to help ordinary people take action on the problems that are most important to them, and in the ways they choose.