Commentary: What Can I Do?

Commentary: What Can I Do?

In a previous column I addressed in part the question I get from more and more constituents about what they can do to be more active in public service. Their concern of course comes from the outcome of the presidential election and the unbelievable events that have occurred since that time. Adding to that column of Dec. 28, 2016, in which I highly recommended membership in the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center and involvement in the gubernatorial election of 2017 in Virginia, I have decided to further facilitate individuals seeking to find a place in which they could become involved in civic affairs.

On Saturday morning, March 11, 9:30 a.m. to noon, at Langston Hughes Middle School in Reston, I am sponsoring an event, What Can I Do? A Civic Engagement Workshop, to bring together persons who want to be more active in their community and in civic matters at all levels of government with individuals and organizations that can provide opportunities, direction, and assistance in becoming an activist, advocate and participant in their community.

There will be no formal program or speeches. Rather there will be representatives of at least 15 different organizations who are known for their civic involvement who will be there to answer questions and give advice on how persons can get involved. It will not be necessary for participants to attend the entire time. No registration is required. Attendees can “shop” from among the organizations represented to explore their interests and get to know the representatives who themselves are already actively involved in the community.

Issues and interest areas to be represented include voting, redistricting, elections, immigration, political campaigning, women’s rights, poverty, gun violence prevention and others. Groups from both political parties have been invited as the event is nonpartisan. Participants include the AAUW, Centreville Immigration Forum, Community Matters, Cornerstones, Emerge Virginia, Equality Virginia, Giving Circle of HOPE, Herndon Reston Indivisible, League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area, Moms Demand Action, NAACP of Fairfax County, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, Reston-Dulles Section of National Council of Negro Women, New Virginia Majority, OneVirginia2021, Progress Virginia, Reston Environmental Action, SALT, Standing Up for Racial Justice of NoVA, Together We Will Northern Virginia, and the Virginia Interfaith Center.

I share the concern and fears expressed by many people about the future direction of our country. I am greatly disturbed about the negative impact that evolving events are having on my neighbors, our children and grandchildren, our form of government, and the culture of inclusiveness we have spent centuries building. It is time for the people to take back their government with a strong and informed voice. To the extent to which the workshop contributes to empowering more people to become involved in their government, I feel it will be a success. Plan to participate and invite your neighbors and friends to come as well.