5 Invitations to Participate

Bring Our Democracy to your classroom or community through these five invitations to respond, report, and create using a range of mediums. Answer as many of these invitations as you like!

What is your community like?

The Our Democracy team considers this project both a journalistic and ethnographic endeavor. We try to arrive at our locations with a loose reporting agenda so that we learn first about a community from its locals, and then decide on the specific stories and reporting angles we will pursue. 

We would like our invitation on this website to begin the same way.

So, tell us about your community. What do you like about it? What would you like to change about it? Do you think you might be able to achieve this change in your community? And if so, how?

All entries must be original. Suggested submissions include: short-form writing (a few paragraphs, essay, poetry, vignette, etc.)

What is YOUR definition of democracy?

Democracy is a complex topic. The Our Democracy team hopes to create a record that provides a multidimensional picture of democracy in America today. At the most fundamental level, we’d like our record to capture what people living in America actually know, understand and feel about democracy. 

Contribute your own definition of democracy to our record. Share how you really feel about American democracy on a personal, local, and/or national level. Or simply get honest with us—let us know what you know or don’t know about it. 

All entries must be original. Suggested submissions include: short-form writing (a few paragraphs, essay, poetry, vignette, etc.)

What do you think democracy LOOKS like in your life?

A major goal of our project is to make conceptions of democracy more tangible, more VISIBLE, in our everyday lives.

Send us images of democracy as YOU see it and want others to see it, too. Help us make democracy’s abstractions concrete. Send images of specific persons, places, objects or happenings in your local community that you believe represent democracy as it is, isn’t, could be, should be, or shouldn’t be.

All entries must be original. Suggested submissions include: images, poetry and photography (All photos should have captions identifying location and explaining the meaning you assign to each photo submitted.)

What stories in your community represent today’s most urgent democratic issues?

The Our Democracy team has been traveling the United States listening to and documenting the stories of people we meet in each community we visit. We strive to create a collection of everyday stories that illuminate issues in democracy on a very local level.

Contribute to our story collection. Document a story from your neighborhood that reveals something specific about the state of democracy, or issues related to democracy, that the rest of the world should know and consider.

Tell the story of an unsung community leader; a grassroots group organizing for change; a unique local tradition that keeps some aspect of democracy alive, or perhaps, challenges it; an overlooked street in your neighborhood that needs help; an after-school program losing funding; a team of youth working on fresh approaches to social justice issues; an outspoken attendee at your district council meetings; an immigrant family that still believes in the American Dream; an everyday citizen struggling to make a hard-earned living; or an artist challenging or reimagining democracy in some way. Tell these and the innumerable other untold stories in your community that will both personalize and localize democratic issues while also broadening understandings of the state of American democracy today.

All entries must be original. Suggested submissions include: narrative essay, vignette, news articles, podcast, Instagram Stories, video stories, short-form documentary film, and photography/photo essay. (All photos should have captions identifying location and explaining the meaning you assign to each photo submitted.)

What inspires your beliefs about democracy?

In Memphis, Tennessee, our team met William Golden, a member of a prisoner reentry group, who is now dedicated to continuing his own education and seizing opportunities to educate others. "The only reason why I’m so into politics is because of hip-hop,” he told us, crediting late rapper Tupac Shakur’s music for widening his perspective and moving him to better understand his own life and social context.

Through this final invitation, we ask you to:

  1. identify and deeply reflect on the books, art, music and media that have shaped your understanding of democracy–for better or worse
  2. share these influences with a larger audience

Suggested submission: Send us web links to specific pieces of writing, art, music and media that have impacted your beliefs and understandings of democracy. Each link should include an annotation within which you explain the influence of the linked item.

Our Democracy

The Our Democracy Education Project is a partnership with the National Writing Project and PhotoWings. PhotoWings' mission is to help photography to be better understood, created, utilized, seen, and saved. The project is also supported by the National Geographic Society and Catchlight, and explores the question, “What does democracy look like?” through the creation of a multimedia record of the state of local, everyday democracy today.