Understanding the language of democracy
// By Jacqueline Brennan
These days, words like activism, equity, justice, and democracy are commonplace in our field, describing both the values and substance of our work. But what do these words mean to everyday Americans?
Earlier this year, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) released the findings of its Civic Language Perceptions Project, a nationally representative survey and series of focus groups, aimed at better understanding how Americans think about civic engagement and democracy. And the data was clear: the language practitioners use to describe these themes is very different from the way most Americans think about them.
If you’d like to learn more, don’t miss the Upswell workshop, “Understanding the Language of Democracy,” for enlightening and surprising insights you can use to inform the way you and your organization think and talk about civic language.
PACE’s Communications and Marketing Director Adiel Suarez-Murias, says their staff heard time and again from PACE members – funders who invest in civic engagement and democracy around the country – that “it’s more difficult than it should be to talk about this work.”
“This is the first effort to understand that disconnect, and there are a lot of interesting insights here, so I’m excited to share our findings,” says Adiel. She’s also hoping Upswell changemakers and the sector at-large will help PACE determine what should come next.
“We hope this is the beginning of an ongoing exploration. We want the sector to play a role in helping us think about the next step – what’s the next bite at the apple that will inform our work going forward, especially now in this political climate?
“So much of our work is about connecting with people. Especially now, given the fragile state of our democracy, finding ways to connect people with community, something bigger than themselves, is central to the work we do,” Adiel adds.
“I think understanding the language people use to describe their experience in civic life, and how they show up in the public sphere, is critical to making that connection.”
Understanding the Language of Democracy is happening Wednesday, November 13 from 3 – 4pm.
Adiel is also a member of the 2019 Independent Sector’s 2019 American Express NGen Fellows cohort, and will be co-presenting a workshop with the 2019 cohort, happening Thursday, November 14 from 10:45 – 11:30am.