• Malka Kopell

Civity Update: Standing Up for Connection in a Divided Country

Updated: May 22, 2019

At a time when “our divided country” is all the buzz at cocktail parties (well, at least the cocktail parties I’m going to!), Civity is standing up for connection, compassion, and conversation. And Civity is not alone. Other organizations with aligned missions – the Village Square, One America Movement, Everyday Democracy, Islamic Networks Group, Living Room Conversations, the Bridge Alliance, and many more – are helping to create spaces for people who are different to connect.

The same thing is happening on the ground. In communities all around the country, people and the organizations they represent – whether part of a city government, a local nonprofit, or a business – are standing up. They are saying no: “No, we’re not all divided.” And, more importantly, they are saying yes: “Yes, I want to know my neighbor better.” “Yes, I hear your story.” And “Yes, you are different from me – and you are part of my community.”

Our Seeding Civity in Communities initiative allows us to work with people like this – people who are building Civity in their towns, their cities, their states. We kicked off Seeding Civity earlier this year in Redwood City, CA – thanks to support from the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University. (Catch Reba Hsu’s article on what we’ve been up to there and watch our video interview with Redwood City's City Manager Alex Khojikian). And, thanks to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, we are in the process of identifying other communities across the county where Civity can take root - enhancing and deepening work already underway. More on that soon!

In the meantime, we have also conducted workshops at the Muslim Community Center of the East Bay, the Peninsula Jewish Community Center, for the staff of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, and the annual meeting of the Nebraska Women in Higher Education Leadership Conference. And, we conducted our first open-to-the-public workshop at as a pilot for a possible partnership with Airbnb.

I also want to formally welcome two people to our Civity team – Gina Baleria and Reba Hsu. Gina, a journalist, writer and digital communications strategist who teaches communications at San Francisco State University, has been helping us out for quite a while (for which we are extremely grateful): putting out our newsletter, expanding and updating our website, and hosting and producing our This Is Civity podcasts. Reba, who recently joined our Seeding Civity initiative and has started working with us in Redwood City, brings her talents in nonprofit projects and film production to our shop. Great to have you both on board!

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