I just got back to the office after attending the 65th annual National Conference on Citizenship at the Library of Congress. As usual, the panels supplied an interesting perspective on what citizenship means in modern society and how engaged (or un-engaged) people are in their community. And, by “engaged,” I don’t mean volunteering, although that is a way to demonstrate your citizenship.
A few highlights include:
- Results from the 2010 Civic Health Index were shared, and my favorite finding is “The road to engagement starts at the dinner table. 88% of Americans sit down to dinner with members of their household several times each week… These close ties provide important venues to discus civic matters such as politics, religion, and current events. Whether at the dinner table or otherwise, nearly 3 in 4 people discuss political affairs with their family and friends at least once a month.”
- Cheryl Dorsey of Echoing Green on how to inspire more social entrepreneurship: “What is the best and most effective way you can use your talents for your community?”
- Keynote speaker Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg discussed the role of the Supreme Court in some of the more controversial issues of today: “the court responds not to the weather of the day but to the climate of the era.” Don’t you love that?
But the absolute best part of this conference is the last item on the agenda—a naturalization ceremony. If you have never seen one in person, I encourage you to find the opportunity to do so. Today, 23 people took the oath and became new U.S. citizens—it was very moving. And quite an honor to be present for such a significant moment for those families.