When I first moved to Berkeley, California, almost three years ago, someone told me about the NextDoor app. I signed up right away and soon discovered that it is a great way to connect with your neighbors. People post about free lemons and plant cuttings. They request help with odd jobs like weeding. They share details about upcoming events like community open mic nights and movies in the park. People generously responded when I asked to borrow some snowshoes (for a trip). And there are, sadly, many posts about missing (but also some found!) pets.
Posted by Margaret Wakeley on January 6, 2020
Societies depend on dialogue to function well. These days social media allows us to talk more than ever, but often that means declaring our opinions: talking "at" instead of "to" others. This approach leads to further alienation.
Posted by Sheryl Johnson on December 30, 2019
On December 12, 2019 the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) hosted a “Democracy Fair and Comedy Night” at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. The event began with a fair that featured a variety of community organizations including the ACLU, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, the San Francisco Department of Elections, the Sierra Club, and the Practicing Democracy Project (represented by me!).
Posted by Aizaiah Yong on December 23, 2019
Practicing democracy in a diverse community does not need to be stressful or tense. At the small apartment complex in Southern California where I live, 19 residents engaged in enjoyable practices rooted in kindness and hospitality. Together we reflected on what it means to live in community with shared resources and to imagine taking committed actions for the common good of all.
Posted by Sheryl Johnson on December 16, 2019
On November 19, 2019, students, staff, and faculty from the Graduate Theological Union and wider Berkeley, California, community came together for a workshop on democracy. Through rituals and conversation, we considered this question: "Can spiritual practice strengthen democracy?"
Posted by Ada Renee Williams on December 9, 2019
February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019
Toni Morrison died on Monday, August 5, 2019. Our cohort gathered on Wednesday, August 7, for a three-day intensive. With such a seismic loss, we shifted our planned agenda to honor Morrison and allow her work to guide our intensive.
First, each participant selected a favorite passage from a novel of the Morrison Canon to share with the group. Next, we used the same or another passage to expound on one of the topics of our gathering: de-centering whiteness, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, examples or challenges of cultural productions of evil.
Posted by Ada Renee Williams on December 2, 2019
Forty-six miles west of New Orleans, near Wallace, Louisiana, in St. John the Baptist Parish situated on the west bank of the Mississippi River, you will find The Whitney Plantation. It was established in 1752, first to harvest indigo, later rice and sugar. The Whitney was operational for over 100 years, and during this time held the lives of 350 persons of African Descent/African Americans in bondage on its grounds. The Whitney distinguishes itself as the "only plantation museum in the region with an exclusive focus on slavery."
Posted by Ada Renee Williams on November 25, 2019
"Democracy is more than a system of government; it is a way of life. We can assess the vitality of a democracy by how well it is serving the people's needs and hopes."
These opening lines from the Practicing Democracy Blog speak to a way of being which — more often than not — seems to allude some people's grasp. What does "practicing democracy" mean when the very systems one is to consider disregards your humanness and have done so since the inception of this nation?
Posted by Aizaiah Yong on November 18, 2019
I first came across Zion Real Estate when I was living in the Seattle area and was looking for reputable agents who would have the community’s best interests in mind. When I met the founder, Derek Catherall, I was highly impressed that he had included community building in his business model. The first words out of his mouth were "people before profits."
Posted by Sheryl Johnson on November 11, 2019
The experience of being “unsettled” as a “settler” will stay with me for a long time. During the closing event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2015 I participated in the KAIROS Blanket Exercise in Ottawa, Ontario. This is a participatory teaching tool that tells the history and ongoing realities of colonization in Canada. Blankets are spread on the ground and are then folded up and removed as the history is told, enacting the ways that Indigenous access to the land has been restricted by European settlers. Participant-actors, playing the roles of Indigenous peoples, move and are removed from the blankets as historical and ongoing realities are described. These realities include the deaths of Indigenous peoples due to introduced diseases, the genocide caused by Residential Schools, the removal from traditional lands and forced relocation to reserves, and the removal and adoption of Indigenous children by child welfare agencies.
About This Blog
Democracy is more than a system of government; it is a way of life. We can assess the vitality of a democracy by how well it is serving the people's needs and hopes. But a democracy's health is best reflected in examples of how people practice it through their commitments to shared values and virtues. In this blog, we will present stories of democracy-in-practice. More.