WBEZ | civic engagement http://www.wbez.org/tags/civic-engagement Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Millennials more likely to volunteer http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/millennials-more-likely-volunteer-111298 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/5603321128_419898df0f_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON &mdash; Tired of hearing people grouse about a tuned-out, apathetic younger generation?</p><p>Well, here&#39;s a comeback: Today&#39;s young Americans are more serious about giving back than their parents were.</p><p>In fact, those under age 30 now are more likely to say citizens have a &quot;very important obligation&quot; to volunteer, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds.</p><p>The embrace of volunteering is striking because young people&#39;s commitment to other civic duties &mdash; such as voting, serving on a jury and staying informed &mdash; has dropped sharply from their parents&#39; generation and is lower than that of Americans overall.</p><p>Among six civic activities in the AP-GfK poll, volunteering is the only one that adults under 30 rated as highly as older people did.</p><p>&quot;I want to make my city where I live a better place,&quot; Morgan Gress, 24, of Washington said after sorting and hanging donated clothes with co-workers who chose to volunteer in lieu of an office holiday party. After you volunteer, she said, &quot;You never walk away feeling you didn&#39;t have a great time, or help someone out, or learn something new.&quot;</p><p>Today&#39;s young adults grew up amid nudges from a volunteering infrastructure that has grown exponentially since their parents&#39; day, when the message typically came through churches or scouting.</p><p>Gress doesn&#39;t find it unusual that her employer, a hub for tech startups called 1776, encouraged workers to sort clothes at Bread for the City during office hours. Most of her friends work at companies with some sort of volunteer program, she says. Community service was required at her private high school in Buffalo, New York, like many other schools across the country. Volunteer opportunities were plentiful as a student at American University.</p><p>In the decades since President George H.W. Bush championed America&#39;s volunteer groups as &quot;a thousand points of light&quot; at his 1989 inaugural, the number of nonprofits has skyrocketed. The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and Sept. 11 have become days of service. Individuals launch community projects through social media, instead of hanging posters and making phone calls.</p><p>Twenty percent of adults under 30 volunteered in 2013, up from 14 percent in 1989, according to census data analyzed by the Corporation for National and Community Service. It seems likely that the Millennials&#39; volunteering rate will climb higher, because past generations have peaked in their 30s and 40s, when many parents give their time to schools, youth groups or community improvements.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re on the crux of something big, because these Millennials are going to take this spirit of giving and wanting to change communities and they&#39;re going to become parents soon,&quot; said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. &quot;I am very encouraged by what we&#39;re seeing.&quot;</p><p>The vast majority of Americans believe citizenship comes with an array of responsibilities. But the strength of that conviction has weakened since the General Social Survey asked about obligations of citizenship in 1984.</p><p>Seventy-seven percent say reporting a crime you witness is very important, down from 90 percent three decades ago in the survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. Three-quarters call voting in elections very important, about the same as in the 1984 survey, though only about 36 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in November&#39;s midterms.</p><p>The biggest decline among the six obligations tested? Keeping fully informed about news and public issues. A majority &mdash; 56 percent &mdash; of Americans considered that very important in 1984; now only 37 percent think so.</p><p>Young adults are even less interested in keeping up. Despite unprecedented access to news and information, 28 percent feel no obligation to stay informed.</p><p>A similar number say there&#39;s no obligation to volunteer, but the trends are moving in opposite directions.</p><p>The share who call volunteering very important has climbed 10 percentage points, while staying informed dropped 13 points. The importance of voting, jury duty, reporting a crime and speaking English as obligations of citizenship also declined among young adults.</p><p>Peter Levine, associate dean for research at Tufts University&#39;s college of citizenship, said while the nation was building up its institutional support for volunteering, many of the organizations that promote political and civic involvement, including labor unions, churches and newspapers, were shrinking.</p><p>Could experience gained while volunteering lead more young people to other civic roles, such as banding together to solve local problems, following national issues or joining political parties?</p><p>There are some positive signs.</p><p>Kaleigh Gordon, a junior at the University of Southern Mississippi, has a history of volunteering but says she hasn&#39;t followed politics much because &quot;there&#39;s so much negativity.&quot; Now, a trip to Washington to help care for homeless people has her thinking about how to solve some of their underlying problems, such as untreated mental illness.</p><p>&quot;This is different from anything I&#39;ve done before. It&#39;s been very shocking,&quot; Gordon, 21, said before serving lunch at So Others Might Eat. &quot;The government should do more &mdash; we need more funds &mdash; and people in the community need to be stepping up to do more, too.&quot;</p><p>But Rutgers University Professor Cliff Zukin, who studies civic engagement, sees little prospect that volunteering will lead to a strong return to political participation and other civic virtues that were in decline well before today&#39;s young adults came of age.</p><p>&quot;They&#39;re starting at a very, very low point,&quot; he said. &quot;And each generation seems to have peaked at less than the previous generation.&quot;</p><p>The AP-GfK Poll of 1,044 adults was conducted online July 24-28, 2014, using a sample drawn from GfK&#39;s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.</p><p>Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn&#39;t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.</p></p> Mon, 29 Dec 2014 10:08:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/millennials-more-likely-volunteer-111298 Youth and the city http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/youth-and-city-109289 <p><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP332906622549.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="(AP/Paul Beaty)" /></div></div><div>&ldquo;I forgot how easy it is to be young here,&rdquo; a friend said to me over the holiday weekend. He was in town visiting his mother, and he made the statement in assessment of a night out.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It&rsquo;s true.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In Chicago, it is easy to find quality entertainment, cheap drinks, delicious food, and relatively affordable living and transportation options, especially compared to other cities.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>His comments reminded me of another from last year. A friend visited the city to see whether or not she wanted to move here. In the end, she chose New York. In terms of her career, it made sense. But did Chicago not provide enough of a challenge? Does it matter if Chicago is &ldquo;easy&rdquo; compared to other cities?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Well, for one, who said that Chicago is easy?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Earlier this summer, another friend said, &ldquo;Everyone&rsquo;s just dying,&rdquo; when explaining one of his reasons for wanting to move out of the city. Despite the frequent reports of violence in the city, it is easy to forget that the ease and accessibility of the city do not exist for a large segment of the city&rsquo;s population. Many of the amenities and much of the entertairnment people enjoy in the city tends to cater to one specific population.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Despite Chicago&rsquo;s conflicting narrative, many organizations do find the city worthy of praise. Chicago was ranked as the <a href="http://www.youthfulcities.com/#!Chicago/zoom/c5tu/i4awu" target="_blank">6th most &ldquo;youthful&rdquo; city</a> (out of 25 large urban global cities) as part of the 2014 YouthfulCities Index, created as &ldquo;the first index to rank cities from a youth perspective.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For their index, the top five largest cities were chosen from five regions: Africa, Asia, English-speaking North America, Europe and Latin America. Youth was defined as 15-29 years old, and categories included public space, transportation and affordability and employment and fashion, among others.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Their rankings were based on 10 months of research with more than 75 people, &ldquo;contributing to 16 categories, 80 Global Indicators, and 2000 data points.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>What does all of that mean?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Well, for many young people, especially those fresh out of college, Chicago provides an ideal environment to thrive. We have many youth-friendly neighborhoods, bars, music venues, cheap restaurants, and affordable housing. But is any of this sustainable?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to YouthfulCities, &ldquo;50 per cent of the world&#39;s population is under 30 years of age and 50 per cent of the world&#39;s population now live in cities.&rdquo; What happens when that population ages? In Chicago, growing out of the &ldquo;youthful&rdquo; phase does not always offer the accessibility and ease that can be found when young.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to the Index, Chicago ranks 2nd in public space, sports, and gaming. Our thankful abundance of public parks, beautiful waterfront, and loveable sports teams speaks to this easily. A middle-class lifestyle as a young 20-something is an ideal situation in Chicago.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However, a middle-class lifestyle while trying to raise young children presents new hurdles. In the Index, Chicago ranked 21st overall in environmental sustainability. And while the Index claimed we were ranked 6th in the &ldquo;Economic Status Sub Index&rdquo; (comprised of indicators such as minimum wage, housing, and student housing), it does not speak to the sustainability and viability of these numbers in the long run.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Thirty-five is not as easy as 25. And with greater adulthood comes greater concerns.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Where are the quality, affordable, and accessible education options for all children? Where are the numerous housing options in safe neighborhoods? Where are the jobs that provide more than just the minimum wage?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to the Index, <a href="http://media.wix.com/ugd/3a3a66_f8a747d9e1b244ceade7cdc6a6c90c3f.pdf" target="_blank">Chicago ranks 16th</a> in &ldquo;Civic Participation,&rdquo; a number that is not terrible, but is not worthy of praise. Only one American city &ndash; New York City &ndash; ranks within the Top 10. For Chicago to sustain itself as a city beyond &ldquo;youth&rdquo; it must grow into a place that is livable for all. And it is the people living within it (especially the youth who find it so charming and easy right now) who must take greater steps to secure its future.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Britt Julious&nbsp;blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow her essays for WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/">here</a>&nbsp;and on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></div></p> Tue, 03 Dec 2013 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/youth-and-city-109289 Income disparity and U.S. political economy http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-09/income-disparity-and-us-political-economy-93898 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-09/occupy2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>At the heart of the growing Occupy movement is a frustration that economic elites dominate public policy and don’t contribute their fair share to society.</p><p>Last month, we sat down with <a href="http://www.polisci.northwestern.edu/people/winters.html" target="_blank">Jeffrey Winters</a>, a political science professor at Northwestern University, to talk about wealth in America and his book <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/aus/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9781107005280&amp;ss=fro" target="_blank"><em>Oligarchy</em></a>. Jeffrey <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-28/oligarchy-history-how-super-rich-defend-their-wealth-93577" target="_blank">talked to us</a> about the root causes of income disparity, and how America’s super-rich have an entire ‘wealth defense industry” at their disposal to evade paying taxes proportional to what the rest of the country pays. The interview provoked a compelling discussion about the nature of wealth in America. He returns to the program to take calls from listeners.</p><p>We're also joined by <a href="http://political-science.uchicago.edu/people/faculty/mccormick.shtml" target="_blank">John McCormick</a>, a political science professor at the University of Chicago and author of <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/gb/knowledge/isbn/item5695990/?site_locale=en_GB" target="_blank"><em>Machiavellian Democracy</em></a>. He proposes a new branch of government, a "people’s council," that could try government officials for war crimes and abuse, veto and propose legislation, and ultimately keep government accountable to the masses. His ideas stem from research into ancient systems such as Rome and Athens, where plebeians held high positions in government alongside elites.</p></p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 17:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-09/income-disparity-and-us-political-economy-93898