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, 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.  Democracy is often ponderous and acrimonious, which makes it a poor draw compared with the fast-moving, pretty 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 were 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 organizing engaging events that nurture fun, 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.   

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) 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.     

(3) Join 1,000 Strong for the DMV DLC by donating $100 to $1,000 to support Learning Life’s work to develop the DMV DLC.  When you make your donation, please write “1,000 Strong for the DMV DLC” in the Note field.  In exchange, you’ll:

  1. Get Learning Life’s monthly e-news to keep you updated on our progress.
  2. Be invited to special events, like our Democracy Dinners.
  3. Have your name listed among our 1,000 Strong at Learning Life’s website, social media and our annual fundraising event program (or let us know if you wish to be anonymous).