This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Harwood Institute's ground-breaking report,Citizens and Politics: A View from Main Street America. It was one of the first major studies to reveal people were not "apathetic" about politics and public life (as polls said they were), but felt disconnected and pushed out. Over 100,000 copies of Citizens and Politics were ordered nationwide, and every national and local news outlet ran stories.This year, Harwood is partnering again with the Kettering Foundation and the National Center for Media Engagement (NCME) to engage communities and build the core of Citizens and Politics II - at a moment when communities and the nation need it the most. Listen to Rich's interview with WDET in Detroit about Citizens and Politics II.
I believe there is hope ahead, but to really create hope we need to change public dialog. The Harwood Institute will be working throughout the next 18 months to use Citizens and Politics IIto spark something in the media - to insert the “voice of reason in unreasonable times” into the national debate, to encourage people to think differently about politics and public life.
If we are to improve our communities then we need to release ourselves from the resignation that public life has to be the way it is today or what it was 10, 20, 30 years ago. We must declare that it can be better, that we can be better.
I believe that this is what Americans need to hear right now. Over the past twenty years The Harwood Institute has worked hard to become a leading national authority on improving America’s communities, raising standards of political conduct and re-engaging citizens on today’s most complex and controversial public issues. And I believe it's time again to bring this issue to the masses.