This is what democracy looks like
Say something outrageous. Offer up a prayer. Write a letter to the editor of the Sierra Sun. Join a club or group. The next time you see someone in front of the post office collecting signatures, stop and really listen. Join those folks in front of Safeway who are carrying signs.This is what democracy looks like. It’s pretty simple, really, the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.Freedom of speech.Freedom of religion.Freedom of the press.Freedom of assembly.Freedom of petition. Our forefathers based these freedoms on the expectation that people in this country would organize themselves in order to improve the quality of life. Alexis de Tocqueville called it the “art of associating together.” One role of Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation is to connect people to the community. We use philanthropy to strengthen community. We encourage private giving for the public good.Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation is looking closely at civic participation as a way to strengthen our community. Starting next year, TTCF will re-direct some of its grantmaking to encourage and grow civic participation. It is our belief that a community works only when people are invested in its success.Most individuals begin their civic journeys with local participation – joining together to clean up our streets or the Truckee River, participating in Community Christmas, or building part of the rim trail. Some of us learned the “art of association” as young people when we joined the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, attended Sunday school, or participated in a service learning project in school.What results do we expect to see from Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation’s investment in civic engagement? Some tangible examples include an increase in volunteer hours and donations to local nonprofit organizations, an increase in the number of people who vote, an increase in the number of people running for office, and an increase in participation in public meetings.Less measurable results might include an increased belief that residents will step forward and take actions that will enhance Truckee’s well-being. Another might be that our leadership will allow a community to draw together and take advantage of the various talents and skills that exist in our town. We also expect to see a culture welcoming to new ideas and new people. Basically we want everyone in town – permanent and part time residents alike – to be involved in something they are passionate about. We have big expectations for limited dollars!In America, both philanthropy and volunteering are roughly twice as common as in other countries. Giving back is simply a part of our society as designed by our forefathers. All of these civic traditions are central to our experience as Americans. Our founding fathers viewed service and civic engagement as fundamental to preserving freedom and the system of government that supports it.The “art of association” often begins with the inspired and dedicated person who decides to do what he or she can by joining with others who are doing what they can. Truckee is full of folks like this. Join in and celebrate your freedoms. Happy Fourth of July, all. I’ll see you at the parade.Lisa Dobey is CEO of Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation. She can be reached at 587-1776 or email@example.com.
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