Is it too soon to talk training camp? Might depend on whether you play the game or not a fan of the game. With the WNBA things are jumping-off now, while for the NFL it’s only a few weeks away. Both leagues recently had the Draft where newcomers got picked for their dream spot. The athletes have spent years doing gym workouts and skills drills in the backyard, at the park and for many, in high school through college. The Draft often celebrates the hometown effect of ‘field work’ as a springboard to the next level.
There’s another ‘draft’ that happened back-in-the-day among those who wanted a New America. They first drafted versions of some key documents and later went on a journey of drafting colonies to become states. There’s a common thread to the original civic Draft, and what we saw in the recent sports Drafts. It’s about bringing fresh energy, talent and mojo to the game for a new season of the league. What if we could do the same to help forge a new season of America? Maybe we can spur some fresh energy among public officials and hometown players who’d bring new mojo to America’s civic landscape.
In recent weeks we’ve had breaking news stories across the country of protests, violent tragedies and disinformation. There’s underlying tension in the social/political space around culture, race and ‘woke’. Flashback to the 80s and concerns were about a ‘generation on drugs’. Now we have a ‘generation on edge’ in a nation of simmering division and extremism. Harvard Kennedy School’s recent Gen Z poll shows many continue to wrestle with anxiety/fears around the issues. The poll director believes young people are yearning for a chance to see the country come together behind an idea or ideal (e.g. like happened during our founding, or the civil rights movement, or shortly after 9-11).
Realizing how we got here from our founding to a somewhat shaky standing on these topics, might take going under the hood of American history, the ‘Black to America’ story and #HometownStrong comebacks. It was out of past frustration and being fed-up that led to creating SAIC years ago. That’s what continues to inspire emerging efforts to Make Our Journeys One, #MojoInAmerica. From SAIC’s deep dive in history we were left with some takeaways:
- America’s founding ideals were meant to foster democracy as a civilized society.
- America after the Revolution came by “writing it into existence and speaking it into relevance”.
- America can modernize by creating a shift in citizenship and leadership as a ‘MOJO Nation’.
Beyond drafting the founding documents, think of George Washington’s speech to Revolutionary Army officers in Newburgh NY. Or Abraham Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg. Or Martin Luther King’s letter from the Birmingham jail. SAIC is using those events as inspiration for its ‘A New America’ Talk series.
Plus, we took a page from the civic model of America’s startup and the tech model of going from black & white to color TV. The tech model repeated itself in PCs going from DOS to Windows and mobile phones from ‘flip to smart’. These shifts moved us as consumers from frustration to savvy solution. In the same way, we’re engaging citizens in going from grievance to public good, frustration to savvy solution, Gen Z tension to MOJO nation. This means applying:
1. Tracks of Law
Ever wondered why many politicians are lawyers by training? It’s prob one of the oldest professions where the first thing we did as a country was to draft founding documents which became tracks of law. The Constitution is a basis for many federal laws. Then there’s the Bill of Rights which overlaps federal and state laws. Local laws are often observed as ordinances. In history, tracks of law have been important as public policy. SAIC plans to work with state legislators and those in state government on civic solutions that go beyond the classroom to gain support from the boardroom and community.
2. Tools of Civics
There’re different ways to being an engaged citizen. The rollout of SAIC’s Civics & Community Events/Workshops will make that plain. An important factor in our approach is that we deliver content such that citizens get to ‘breath new life’, they feel a greater sense of belonging and they experience a breakthrough. For example, the idea of #HometownStrong comebacks combines a sense of belonging and the chance for breakthrough. It allows other demographic groups beyond black & white (e.g. AAPI, Latinx, LGBTQ, etc.) to experience breakthroughs based on the history of their group’s fight for justice.
3. Techniques of Change
America’s history has been on a change continuum. It’s similar to leagues, teams and new players. Each league welcomes new players to the whole squad. They get to ‘come on board’ with the team’s strategy, schedule and culture. Then after a while they make the highlight reel. Our founding as a nation was about having a New America in democracy and dreams. Since then, we’ve gone through fits & starts towards perfecting our Union. The change continuum included protests, civil rights initiatives and new laws. So ‘We the People’ gotta apply techniques of change for a new season of America to make the highlight reel.
4. Takeaways of Impact
The Bill of Rights were meant to balance federal power with state/individual power, rights with responsibility. The First Amendment comes before the Second Amendment because the ‘right to exist’ comes before the ‘right to strap’. But things got twisted/distorted over time to where we have senseless tragedies due to ideology over vision for humanity. Similarly, some use the word ‘woke’ as a social insult while others see it as a positive social impulse to not be asleep on issues (the term ‘Yankee’ went through such twists/turns in history too). It seems some wanna have ‘the right’ without sacrificing for the greater good.
At times it feels like we need ‘heaven down here’ and humanity up there for a reboot/reset. Maybe JFK’s 1962 Commencement Address at Yale had it right in saying “Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” To enjoy the glory in a new season of America with fresh energy, excitement & mojo, it takes tracks of law, tools of civics, techniques of change and takeaways of impact. We’ll shift from backward-looking action to forward-looking vision as a nation.
To find out more about the Civics & Community Forum Series and how you can “J.A.M. With Us” (join a movement) in civic engagement, social change and community life, checkout the Signup Center below.
Tracks: Mickey Guyton – Heaven Down Here – https://youtu.be/ZvR-L9IsH9M
H.E.R. – Glory – https://youtu.be/Ly41ckKMDms