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Dear <<First Name>>,

I’d like you to promise me one thing. As soon as you finish reading this newsletter, find someone to talk to about it. Maybe that conversation will happen on the phone, on video chat, or even in person. But however it happens, make it happen. This is a moment for us to recommit to the basics of democratic citizenship — and the most basic of the basics is that none of us is truly on our own.

The coronavirus may require us now to practice “social distancing” — but only in a physical, embodied sense. When it comes to the heart, the spirit, and the mind, coronavirus requires us more than ever before to practice civic love.

That’s why we are keeping our next scheduled Civic Saturday, March 28, on the books. But it will be virtual and not face-to-face — you'll find more details on our Facebook page in the next few days. And in doing so, we want to urge you not to view it but to join it, and not alone but with a few others. It may be just three of you around a kitchen table but the three of you will be webbed together with many other such pods of people seeking belonging and comfort in these times.

As extraordinary as this pandemic is, some of our everyday principles at Citizen University still apply — indeed, they apply with even more relevance now. 

  • Society becomes how you behave— Our behaviors are literally and figuratively contagious. So, yes, practice good hygiene and take preventative measures. But don’t give in to fear, don’t spread it and make it self-fulfilling. Balance anxiety with fact and context, and understand that we have to keep each other not just un-sick but sane.
  • We’re all better off when we’re all better off — In times like these we notice anew a truth that’s always there: the community is only as healthy as its least healthy members. The case for paid sick leave, for a stronger public health system, for aid to the most vulnerable is a case not only of charity or altruism but also of systemic, societal, enlightened self-interest. 
  • Don’t hoard power; circulate it— The temptation to hoard has never been higher. But when we all withdraw and hold on to what we have, when we stop circulating our concern, our money, our attention, our power and instead direct all those things to ourselves, you know what happens? The body politic seizes up. The economy has a heart attack. So keep circulating your money, your time, your care to those who cannot survive this period alone, whether that’s a small business or an isolated neighbor.

Civic love in the time of coronavirus. Let that be the story we now write together.

– Eric 

In this newsletter:
  • Virtual Civic Saturday – join us!
  • Meet Civic Saturday Fellow Shamichael in Memphis
  • Join our team: We're hiring!
  • Youth Collab & Civic Saturday Fellowship applications opening this May

Virtual Civic Saturday

Join us on March 28th at 11am Pacific Time for a special, virtual Civic Saturday! More details to come soon via email and on our Citizen University Facebook page.

Around the country, communities are implementing social distancing practices in order to promote the health and safety of vulnerable populations during the coronavirus outbreak. Now more than ever, it is important to maintain rituals and support efforts that strengthen our collective civic health, even if we cannot gather in person. 

Civic Saturday Fellow Shoutout!

Shamichael Hallman is the definition of 'civic catalyst.' A local librarian in Memphis, TN, Shamichael attended our Civic Seminary in July 2019 and is showing us everyday what it means to be a powerful, responsible citizen. So far, he has held FOUR (!) Civic Saturdays in Memphis - the most recent was just last week! 
Civic Saturdays in Memphis happen in partnership with the local library, rotating around each branch to bring this ritual to neighborhoods all over Memphis. Earlier this month, folks gathered for Civic Saturday in the middle of the library, amidst all the usual business. "It was heart-warming to see the ways in which people not only felt invited, but actually stopped what they were doing and joined us," says Shamichael. Way to go, Shamichael and all our civic love to Memphis!

Are you a gifted storyteller and civic nerd? Good news! We're hiring for a Senior Communications Manager to join our team here in Seattle, WA. Check out our Jobs Page for more. 

Join in and apply to our programs

Powerful, responsible citizenship happens at every level. From youth leaders, to local citizens, and national civic innovators, there are so many ways to influence and invest in a strong civic culture. 

Three weeks ago, our Youth Collaboratory students (pictured above) met in Atlanta where they worked on projects to support power building in their communities, learned how to give great public speeches, and connected with civic innovators in our National Civic Collaboratory. We’re also excited to welcome the sixth and seventh cohorts of the Civic Saturday Fellowship, who will learn how to create Civic Saturdays in their communities this summer.

Want to learn and lead with us? Applications for both of these programs open this May! Sign up on our interest lists to be the first to know. 
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