From Preeta Bansal and Adam Morfeld
At some point, we are all introduced to the civic idea of “we” – how collectively, all of us make up our democracy, and therefore all of us are responsible for it. We the people; we hold these truths to be self-evident – it all comes down to a few simple facts: When we show up, lead by example, hold ourselves and others accountable, and put trust in our fellow citizens, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.
When we’re at our best, that’s the American we.
In recent times, particularly during the pandemic, we’ve seen what happens when we “otherize” our fellow Americans – people who maybe don’t look, vote, pray, or live like us. Combined with the hyper-individualism of the age, it may feel as if this cultural current is too daunting to change.
We’re here to tell you that it’s not.
Every day, Civic Nebraska is in our streets, our schools, and the halls of government to proclaim: “We” means all of us. We are all co-creators of our interconnected, interdependent, networked reality – and so what we all do matters. Every single one of our actions, big and small and all taken together, creates our shared democratic future.
This mindset has been essential in the past year. We navigated an entire school calendar amid a deadly pandemic; we innovated to build connections across our state so our communities could tackle common challenges; and we assisted and protected voters across the political spectrum as they cast ballots in the largest general election in modern history. In the pages of this 2021-22 Annual Report, you’ll also read about how:
Our Youth Civic Leadership team – already major community-builders and guides for young people on the road to powerful democratic citizenship – took on an even more important role during the pandemic. Our Community Learning Centers connected hard-hit families with food, assistance, resources, and even free personal protective equipment, all while making sure children had a safe, healthy, fun environment in which to learn.
Our Civic Health Program published the Nebraska Civic Health Index, a five-year checkup on our state’s social connectedness, community involvement, faith in institutions and political participation. Then, they gathered key civic catalysts across the state to chart a path for strengthening Nebraska’s civic life over the next five years.
Our Voting Rights Initiatives staff educated and mobilized tens of thousands of new Nebraska voters during the record-smashing 2020 election. Team Voting Rights also trained and deployed hundreds of volunteer poll-watchers to ensure a smooth Election Day. Six months later, we did it all again to protect municipal elections in the state’s two largest cities. In the meantime, we got to work in opposition to harmful voter restriction efforts.
Because of support from people like you, Civic Nebraska can be stronger than ever in 2021-22. We’ve placed our faith in the time-honored idea that a modern and robust democracy takes all of us owning issues together, holding ourselves mutually accountable, putting sincere trust in one another, and acting for the common good.
These things are old and powerful. They are in our national DNA, and they have been with us since the Founding. Together, they create the American we, and they’re waiting for us – all of us – to reclaim them.
Adam Morfeld, J.D.
Executive Director and Founder
Preeta Bansal, J.D.
Chairperson of the Board of Directors