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 Washington 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, and in 2023 will be opened up to democracy advocates elsewhere in the USA and the world.  The Dinners allow us to harness our growing participant network to develop a wider Democracy Learning Community or DLC: a growing association of individuals and organizations, starting 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.

Since 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 ways you can engage and support the development of the DMV DLC:

(1) Donate $50, $100, or $250 to support the growth of the DMV DLC, including a DC Democracy Festival.

(2) Join our “Democracy Learning Community” Linkedin group to connect with others interested in protecting and advancing democracy, and share your related calls to action, publications, events, news, programs, projects to a wider audience.

(3) Join our larger Democracy & Diplomacy Community to network, learn, share and help advance democracy and diplomacy.

(4) Fill out this DMV DLC survey to share your opinions and ideas for building a democracy learning community in metro DC.

(5) Participate in an online Democracy Dinner.  To get on the Dinners invitation list, contact us at with your preferred email address, and either your resume, Linkedin profile page, or personal website to let us know how you are involved in politics or democracy work as a volunteer and/or professional.