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Civic engagement

Civic engagement is all about taking action to improve your community. It's not just about politics, but also volunteering, serving, and organizing for causes. It can be as simple as helping others, raising awareness, or even building a ramp for a neighbor. It's about making a difference!  Created by Kimberly Kutz.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] Civic engagement is defined as the actions of local leaders and residents to improve their community and the lives of their community members. It's important to think about these terms pretty broadly. We tend to think about community as a word that refers specifically to the physical location where you live. But you might belong to several different communities at once, your city or town, yes. But also your school or a club sport or online gaming or social media networks or an identity group. Anytime you join together with others with a common interest, you're in a community. And when you work to promote the quality of life in a community, that's civic engagement. Civic engagement also doesn't only mean engaging with politics and government. That's one way of acting to affect change in a community. And remember that we define politics as a process by which people reach collective decisions despite potentially diverging opinions that are generally regarded as binding on the group and enforced as common policy. But civic engagement also includes a whole spectrum of ways that people participate in self-governance including interacting with government, volunteering in and serving their communities, and organizing for social, political, and economic causes. When someone works to make a difference in their community and develops the combination of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation in order to make a difference, they're practicing civic engagement. So what does civic engagement look like? It could be many things. Here are a few examples. Organizing a voter registration drive, hosting a town meeting, or organizing a protest. It could also be raising awareness about community issues through a blog or website, helping others get the skills or resources that they need to succeed, or seeing a need in your community and filling it. I was on a hike last weekend and saw a ranger station that was built by an Eagle Scout. That's a perfect example of civic engagement, Helping elementary school students build reading skills so that they can become strong citizens is a good example. So is volunteering to help rebuild after a hurricane or making sure that a homeowner who's in a wheelchair has a ramp to get in and out of her house. So that's a very brief overview of civic engagement. Can you think of any other examples? What does a person do differently when they're practicing civic engagement versus when they're not? What forms of civic engagement do you see in the communities you belong to?