Why CivNet? Why Now?
• Charlie Wisoff
In the wake of the recent election, I've noticed that a lot of people have been asking themselves, "what can I do to affect change?" Trump was elected by a populist base that rejected the establishment status quo. Activists on the left have a renewed vigor, and a number of previously inactive people are engaging in politics. So, where does CivNet fit in?
CivNet's mission is to EMPOWER individuals to make change, to improve our democracy. The underlying problem in our democracy is that people have forgotten how to flex their democratic muscles, and the civic fabric that holds us together as a nation, as a community is wearing thin.
Unlike other platforms for change, CivNet does not assume there is one correct way to make change. Yes, voting is important. Yes, calling your congressman is important. BUT, so is showing up at your city council meeting. So is helping paint a mural on a school building. So is making an effort to talk to people with opposing viewpoints because we can not expect our leaders to work together if we are unwilling to do so ourselves.
CivNet's model for change is about breaking down siloes. Too often we are content working with people who make us comfortable, who we have always worked with. This does not build capacity for change. It only perpetuates the status quo. Siloing does not help people realize that the need to paint a delapitated school building is fundamentally connected to education policy that dictates how resources are allocated. It also often disregards the fact that communities are full of valuable assets. People are not just consumers of government services. We are a government of, by, and for the people.
CivNet achieves these goals by providing an action-oriented network for civic and political change. We help people connect with others who care about similar issues, find opportunities to get involved, and organize to take action. Over 1,500 people signed up for CivNet last year in our local Albuquerque pilot. Those people have created 153 community projects and taken action through CivNet 721 times. Those actions include people advocating for better bike lines, volunteering for a youth hackathon, and finding fundraising support for open primaries in New Mexico. If you're still asking yourself how you can make change, or if you want to find others to help you make change, login to CivNet and join the movement!