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The Action-oriented Citizen: Civic Participation

The Action-Oriented Citizen: Civic Participation

So you are angry about what’s going on in this country and you are ready to move beyond posting on Instagram. Great! I have a few tips to share on how I got more involved.

Step 1: Vote

Voting is a critical function of being a citizen of this country. If we can’t agree on voting being important, I don’t think the rest of this post will be that useful. Not much insight to share besides this useful link to register for voting.

Step 2: Know who your representatives are, Write/Email/Tweet @ them

Contact your local, state or federal representative when there is an issue you feel strongly about. I am based in Austin, TX and my representatives are:

— Austin District 9 Councilwoman Kathie Tovo

She’s stepping down and will hopefully be replaced by this great guy, Ben Leffler, in the upcoming election.

— State Rep Roger Williams (Texas District 25)

— Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn

I didn’t like the way Net Neutrality was shaping up so I sent a strongly worded email to Senator Cornyn. To his credit, his office wrote me back.

Part 3: Explore involvement in politics

Post-military I felt like there was a clear lack of purpose to my life that the military had been so good at defining. I wanted to continue to work for our country in some capacity so I took a closer look at politics.

— New Politics Academy

I reached out to a US Naval Academy classmate, Brendan Mills, who was at the time working for New Politics, to get an inside understanding of politics.

Their mission: “We support outstanding military veterans and national service leaders, alumni of programs like AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps, to step up and serve our country again, this time through politics. New Politics is a bipartisan organization that is working towards electing a new generation of political leadership by helping service-oriented leaders run for public office.”

The New Politics Service Academy is made for folks early in their discovery process. My cohort met once a week for five weeks. This program helped plug me into the local Austin scene and get a better idea of how I might contribute in a meaningful way. The program is free and applications were due June 2 (maybe they can make an exception for you!…or you can catch the next one).

From New Politics I connected with Billy and Ashley Moyer, who plugged me into all sorts of resources…..the best fit for me being the ATXelerator founded by Ward Tisdale.

— The ATXelerator

This program was much more of a commitment than the New Politics Academy. We met for a 2 hours every week for 3 months. The class covered local issues like Homelessness, City Finances, Transportation all presented by amazing subject matter experts from Austin. My classmates were also from all sorts of backgrounds and industries which contributed immensely to the discussions and overall learning.

Some folks I want to call out:

  • The finalists for the pitch competition: Brian Nunnery, Daniela Silva (running for City Council District 3!), Heather Emerson, Yasmine Smith and Michael Nahas

  • Kelsey Vizzard recently published an article on Transportation

  • Aneka Patel and MacKenzie Seale worked with me on our final presentation on Equitable Transportation Oriented Development. Happy to share our presentation but here is CapMetro’s take on the subject

Applications for the 2023 class are open now! LINK

What's Next

ATXelerator helped get my foot in the door for local politics. I have an assigned mentor who is helping me get plugged into the right spots, I have met with local candidates for office to figure out how I can best support them and I am finding ways I might contribute with my unique skillset…who is excited about a blockchain based AustinCoin?! :) jk lol

I am not sure who in my network needs to read this but if any of these opportunities above are interesting and you want more info, let me know. I am always excited to meet more people and explore other ways I can help out as well!

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