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 return in-person in the DC area.  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.

In 2022, Learning Life began holding meetings and conducting research online to develop a DMV DLC vision and action plan.  That plan will be released in 2023 as a series of published articles and a larger report that can be used to guide forthcoming DLC organizing, including a first DC Democracy Festival.  With time and sustained collaborative 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, or whatever you can afford to help fuel the DMV DLC’s growth.

(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) Fill out this DC Democracy Festival partner survey if you are interested in participating in the Festival as a sponsor, vendor, artist, game organizer, discussion host, pop-up museum curator, festival impact evaluator, or event volunteer.

(6) 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.