Because it significantly accelerated the virtual accessibility of government meetings, the coronavirus pandemic ushered in a Zoom boom of sorts for civic engagement in Kansas. The Journal reports on this development and explores what happens after we log off from the pandemic in the forthcoming Summer edition of the Kansas Leadership Center’s print and digital magazine.
But we also explore how technology isn’t enough. In hopes of making local government operations less opaque, communities across the state have launched civic engagement academies that are providing a pathway into local elected and appointed offices for some residents.
Yet much of our civic interest is captured by national rather than local events. The passions unleased by the presidential election drove record-high voting. Pandemic-related restrictions ensured government meetings attracted increased attention.
But if this is the beginning of a golden era of civic engagement, it is also one that has brought its fair share of conflict. The recent debate over critical race theory in Kansas and across the country is just one example of the increasingly heated and polarized discussions taking place across the country. Our current trajectory suggests there will be more to come.
What is the state of civics in Kansas and across the country? Are we knowledgeable enough about government to truly engage with it? Do we still possess the capacity for argument, persuasion, compromise and tolerance of disagreement?
Join us for a virtual discussion from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27, where we’ll celebrate the release of the latest edition of The Journal. The event will be co-hosted by Journal Managing Editor Chris Green and Sarah Jane Crespo of KMUW’s Engage ICT: Democracy on Tap.
Registration is required but free. You can also sign up to receive a print copy of The Journal. If you are able to, we would appreciate a $10 donation to cover the costs of producing, printing and mailing the magazine.