Democracy’s Dozen: 12 articles on participation in a pandemic

Physical distancing doesn't mean you have to be civically distanced. These 12 thought-provoking posts, essays, and articles provide perspective on maintaining a strong democracy during COVID-19.


The Inkwell:
5 ways to stay politically active during the COVID-19 pandemic

This student-written article highlights a few simple things you can do from the comfort of your living room to stay politically engaged during this time of social distancing. Activities include researching a politician, policy or cause, and registering to vote.

Frankly, this is a great time to learn more about our political system and how it works at different levels. After reading, be sure to reach out to your representatives – it’s an important part of participating in our democracy.

Gretchen Rubin:
Coping with COVID-19: Ideas for staying connected

Connection is such an important part of maintaining our civic health. But how do we do that in an era of physical distancing? It’s easy to find yourself feeling isolated. 

From bestselling author Gretchen Rubin, here are several different methods – some straightforward, some nontraditional – to help you maintain strong connections to the people in your life and your community.

Eric Liu, Citizen University:
The Morals in our Stories

In late March, Citizen University hosted Virtual Civic Saturday, a celebration of our shared civic values. Read Eric Liu’s civic sermon on “being useful” during the pandemic – and, after reflecting on Eric’s prompts (How can I be useful? Where I find joy now? What it is I love about my place and community?), share your own #CivicLoveNote

And be sure to tag us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter! 

Political Science Now:
Online civic action projects

Elizabeth Bennion, professor of political science at Indiana University South Bend, wrote this piece for instructors, but her suggestions can apply to anyone, anywhere. Get engaged in your government, stay involved in the 2020 campaign, and get inspired to act – Bennion’s excellent suggestions are well worth considering, and then acting upon.

Children & Nature Network:
10 nature activities to help your family through the pandemic

From neighborhood walks to stories of people taking up biking or running, one effect of the pandemic has been a resurgence of appreciation for getting outside. Here’s some invaluable and useful advice on ways to do just that as we ride out the pandemic. It is so important for our mental and physical health that we spend time in nature. With Richard Louv, co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Children & Nature Network, you can gather tips for your family to enjoy our natural spaces. Get outside!

Americans for the Arts:
Community engagement in the age of COVID-19

Limitations on public gatherings are good for public health but can provide a challenge for public art. Generally, public art community engagement practices aim to build connections and strengthen communication with different stakeholder groups. In this blog post, Patricia Walsh offers insight, resources, and recommendations to maintain community engagement for public art projects and programs while promoting health and safety in our communities. 

The U.S. has a collective action problem that’s larger than coronavirus

Containing the spread of the coronavirus requires collective, unified action, but data on social distancing makes it clear this isn’t happening everywhere. The question is: Why? 

In what kinds of places are residents deciding to move about as if they are immune to the virus that has paralyzed much of the world? What do they look like, and why are they ignoring the calls for social distancing? You might be surprised.

How to boost your loved one’s morale

One of the most vulnerable populations to COVID-19 are our seniors. What’s more, many may be living alone, allowing physical distancing to more easily give way to social isolation. 

What can you do to keep a senior loved one engaged? AARP suggests a number of ways to show you are still there in spirit and still care.

The New York Review of Books:
What people power looks like in a pandemic democracy

Of all political forms, democracy is the most dependent on the participation of its citizens. Critically, that participation is supposed to be collective. Yet, if we cannot gather to assemble or vote, much less deliberate, in what sense can we have a democracy? How do we do politics in a pandemic, self-governance under quarantine? Is it possible to supervise the supervisors if we’re too sequestered — or sick — to vote? Corey Robin, professor of political science at Brooklyn College, delves into these urgent questions. 

The Conversation:
Coronavirus will test U.S.’s civic health, too

These days, it isn’t just hospitals and businesses feeling the strain. Civic and governing institutions are being severely tested by coronavirus, and that could pose a huge challenge to the robustness of American society as a whole. David Jacobson and Zacharias Pieri say the delicate balance of civic institutions and social trust is the mortar of democracy – and it’s certainly not immune to COVID-19. They also prescribe solutions for both the political right and left in this hour of need.

Rolling Stone:
How to be a good citizen in a public-health crisis

Sure, it’s important for us to all do our part in flattening the curve and practicing physical distancing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be supportive friends, neighbors, and citizens. As the saying goes, We’re all in this together. The iconic rock music and pop culture magazine offers eight practical steps everyone can take now to make sure the United States comes through the pandemic stronger on the other side.

New Geography:
COVID-19 is a call to connect

Our true colors shine when the pressure is high. And right now the world is being pushed to its limits to stay positive, energized and open-minded in the midst of a seemingly endless number of outcomes to this pandemic. Nevertheless, times of hardship have brought some of the biggest discoveries, brightest realizations, and boldest leaders of history, Charlie Stephens writes. That’s a silver lining we’d happily take from all of this.

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