DMV DEMOCRACY LEARNING COMMUNITY
You may have heard the phrase, “democracy is not a spectator sport.” Yet despite that common conviction, the reality is that most people worldwide participate little if at all in their democracies, usually only by consuming news and/or disinformation, talking with friends or family, and periodically voting. Further, among the relative few who participate, too many do not support some of the basic tenets of democracy, like free and fair elections, rule of law, and minority rights. There is no lack of ideas and proposals to widen and deepen participation, and more generally to strengthen democracy and civility, but democratic institutions and behavior do not tend to follow. One reason is that democracy is often ponderous and acrimonious, which for some people makes it less attractive than decisive authoritarian leaders, and for many people, less attractive than the fast-moving, pretty, commercial products of entertainment and media industries. Learning Life believes that overcoming these challenges requires, among other things, bringing democracy closer to people through activities that connect, inform, entertain, and inspire collaborations — from democracy speed networking, skills workshops and collaboration conferences, to democracy dinners, markets and festivals.
Accordingly, and in response to growing threats to democracy in the USA and abroad, in June 2019, Learning Life launched its Democracy Dinners to bring together democracy (broadly defined) professionals, elected officials, activists and academics in metro DC to nurture deeper conversation about the challenges and possibilities for democracy at local to global levels. The Dinners are a first step in our efforts, allowing us to harness our growing Dinners participant network to develop, in the U.S. capital region, a larger DMV Democracy Learning Community or DMV DLC: a nascent association of individuals and organizations in the Washington DC or DC-MD-VA (DMV) metro area working together to strengthen democracy by developing engaging events, products, services and spaces that nurture fun, learning, networking, collaboration and wider, deeper citizen participation.
Starting in February 2022, Learning Life is spearheading monthly planning meetings via Zoom with metro DC stakeholders with the goal of producing a DMV DLC action plan that we can collectively hit the ground running with in 2023. With time and sustained collective effort, we hope that the DMV DLC thrives and becomes a model for building DLCs in other cities and towns across the world. For more on the DLC idea, click here.
Here are three ways you can engage and support the development of the DMV DLC:
(1) Join our “DMV Democracy Learning Community” Linkedin group to connect with others in metro DC interested in protecting and advancing democracy, and share your related calls to action, publications, events, news, programs, projects to a wider audience.
(2) Join our Democracy & Diplomacy Community to network, learn and support the DLC.
(3) Participate in the 2022 planning meetings to shape the future of the DMV DLC. To get on our planning meetings email list and/or to share your ideas and views, fill out this DMV DLC survey.