Beyond the Vote

A Community Discussion on Voice, Power, and Participation

December 4, 2012

Leading up to the November elections, the Center for Civic Reflection (formerly known as the Project on Civic Reflection) and Mikva Challenge joined with WBEZ to invite Chicago residents to think and talk together about how we participate in democracy--and what we hope for when we do. Three weeks after the election, on November 29th, a group of thirty community members, students, and civic leaders were convened to explore what happens next. Voting is one form of participation, but how does it stand next to other forms of involvement as we move forward? How else can we act to improve our city and our world, and what, however we express ourselves, are we hoping to get done?

To dig into these questions, representatives from Global Citizenship Experience, Chicago Cares, the Odyssey Project, Teach for America, Project Soapbox, Morgan Park High School, the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, and several other groups (full list below) engaged in a participatory discussion about the power and the limits of participation in all its forms. The discussion revolved around some of the images seen here, around William Carlos Williams’ short poem, “Election Day,” and around what we feel, want, and work for when we participate.
 

Election Day

Warm sun, quiet air
an old man sits

in the doorway of
a broken house--

boards for windows
plaster falling

from between the stones
and strokes the head

of a spotted dog

-- by William Carlos Williams,
from The Collected Poems, Volume II, 1939-1962


Participants included:
Israel Munoz, Mikva Challenge
Janice Thomson
Meghan Goldenstein, Mikva Challenge
Joan Rothenberg
Darren Reisberg, University of Chicago
Maxine Gere
Kristin Sutter, Teach for America
Star Perry
Mark Cwik
Hamid Bendaas, University of Chicago
Biruk Eyesus, Illinois Institute of Technology
Dillan Siegler, University of Chicago Institute of Politics
Tim Fosbury, City Colleges of Chicago
Johanna Klinsky, Chicago Public Schools
Shayan Karbassi, University of Chicago Institute of Politics
Charles Bell, Mikva Challenge
Shalonda Cox, Mikva Challenge
Cristina Perez, Mikva Challenge
Mehak Hafeez, Mikva Challenge
Steve Bynum, Chicago Public Media (WBEZ)
Erika Grammel, University of Chicago
Jonathan Anderson, DePaul University
Catherine Alvarez-McCurdy, University of Chicago
Lavell Short, Mikva Challenge
Thomas Toney, Chicago Cares
Sara McElmurry, Latino Policy Forum
Shengxiao "Sunshine" Yu, University of Chicago Institute of Politics
Cardale Brinson, Mikva Challenge
Gabrielle Fitzpatrick, Global Citizenship Experience Charter School
Alice Welna, Global Citizenship Experience Charter School
Adam Davis (facilitator), Center for Civic Reflection