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Dear Bridge,

What happens when too many of us stop making it a habit to act like citizens? When we start to hear "that's not my problem" more than we hear "how can I help?" When we see more people disengaging or opting out of participation, rather than joining in and raising their hands?

Living like a citizen — like a contributing, pro-social member of a community — isn’t something we can take for granted. 

That’s why we’re dedicated to helping others build up this civic muscle and motivation. It's the only way to build a nation that delivers on its promise. To do so, we’re kicking off a three-part email series to help you go deeper on the core ingredients of our recipe for success:
  1. Citizenship
  2. Culture
  3. Catalyzing
We encourage you to consider what's possible with a broader understanding and a deeper commitment to infusing these elements into your life. How might you live more like a citizen at your job or on your block? What skills do you have to be a “citizen influencer” even on a small scale? 

Let's take the time to nurture this commitment in ourselves so we can help others do the same.
A small but mighty sidenote in today’s newsletter: we want to say a heartfelt thank you to one of our favorite powerful citizens and CU teammate, Taneum Fotheringill. Taneum has led our Civic Saturday Fellowship program for the past four years and touched the lives of so many across the country. Thank you, Taneum, for showing us it means to be a spirited, dedicated, and catalyzing teammate!
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Part 1: Citizenship

Using our head: Understanding citizenship
A preview of a post entitled Power + Character
As you’ve hopefully picked up, we think about citizenship in the deep ethical sense — not just what passports or papers we may have.

Citizenship is about participating and taking responsibility for the good, the bad, and the ugly of our society. Wherever we and our ancestors were born, we can find purpose by choosing to live like a citizen.
In a recent civic sermon, Eric Liu provided this contrast: "The cynic is uninterested in why people act. The citizen is endlessly curious. The cynic gets disillusioned, and stops. The citizen gets disillusioned, and replaces illusion with vision. The cynic lets things happen. The citizen makes things happen."

Simply put, power + character = citizenship. It calls upon us to use our civic power for good. When we each consciously embrace our character and activate our power, that’s when each of us are truly living like citizens. 
Learn more about power + character →
Using our hearts: Feeling citizenship

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — citizenship is a heart-driven activity. It requires faith, which comes from the heart. It is something we feel when we relate to one another as Americans. When we see others stepping up and taking responsibility, we feel a little bit more capable of doing the same. 

Here are a few ways you can feel that spark of hope — and jolt of activation — from others who are also living like citizens. 

Strategy #1
Up your daily dose.
It’s tempting to tune into snarky or cynical voices about the state of our country… but that media diet can’t be healthy! Seek out new people to follow who are leaning in and generating solutions to give you an encouraging boost.
Strategy #2
Be the one to notice and name citizenship.
Share an observation about someone doing something that improves their community and strengthens bonds of trust and affection — could be around the dinner table or online.
One way to spread stories of citizenship is by sharing posts or videos on social media. Here's one story that our teammate Kayla shared on Facebook...

Bill was an older man who had been living on his own in the house next door for over 25 years. He became quick friends with all of the new townhouse residents, making time to chat with us, sharing flowers and fruit from his garden, keeping us up to date on things he learned from others on the block. But one of the most distinctive neighborly traits was that he would bring in everyone's trash bins on garbage day after they had been emptied. His bins, and the bins of all 4 of the townhouses next door. Trash, Recycle, Compost. Every single week.

A few months ago, the owner of the house Bill had been living in decided to put it up for sale. For the first time in decades, he needed to figure out somewhere else to go. Luckily, Bill was able to find a unit that he could afford, and he moved out last week, promising he would come back to visit us.

Here's why I share this story: today was trash day. This afternoon, I took a peek out the window, and saw that our trash bins had already been moved back from the curb, as had the rest of our neighbors. Someone else had already done it, another townhouse resident I'm assuming. Someone who had decided to pick up the mantle from Bill. Perhaps next week, we'll be the first ones out and bring everyone's bins in. 

Neighborliness is contagious. We all can do it. Sometimes, these moments are the one bright spot in a day of terrible news. Thank you to Bill, the best neighbor ever, for setting off a positive spark for our block. I think he would be proud to know that we'll always think of him on trash day.
What evidence of citizenship do you see around you? Share them with your friends, colleagues, and other people in your life.
Using our hands: Living citizenship
Yellow graphic with the quote, Society becomes how you behave.
Citizenship is way more than which bubbles we fill on our ballots. It’s the everyday ways we use our power and show up for each other. And these small acts compound into culture.

We have the power to shape the norms, narratives, and habits of our communities. Society becomes how we behave, as we like to say. 
We’ve come up with nine ways you can put citizenship into practice — all of which are something you can (and should!) do with others.
✓ Listen — join a group like Living Room Conversations to practice deep listening.

✓ Learn — seek out opinions from people who hold ones different from your own.

✓ Join — find a neighborhood group, block party, or other club.

✓ Gather — bring a group of friends together to build power for an issue you care about.

✓ Serve — build volunteering into your schedule once a month.
✓ Argue — find someone to practice better arguments with and sharpen your positions.

✓ Circulate — find something in your life that you can share with others. 

✓ Advocate — figure out what’s happening with your city council right now and find a way to plug in.

✓ Vote — don’t wait till the elections… make a plan for how you’ll be a voting catalyst when election day rolls around.
A screenshot of a twee that reads, Fill in the blank: Active citizenship looks like:
What does citizenship in action look like to you?

Reply on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook with your ideas!
Fill in the blank →
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COMING UP
 

Part 2: Culture


Next month, we'll dive into what it means to build a culture of powerful, responsible citizenship. 

Know someone who'd like to learn alongside you?
 
Forward to a friend →
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