Engage! Theme: Participation
The first duty of a human being is to assume the right functional relationship to society—more briefly, to find your real job, and do it.—Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Through it all there is the question of what we do. Whatever shapes our actions and whatever is done to us, always there is the question of what we do—and with that, the question of why we do it. We can vote, protest, and serve. We can run, walk, and sit. We can fight and we can work and we can play. We can join up, drop out, and toil in fields of our own choosing. Which of our actions serve personal ends and which serve more community-oriented ends? What does it mean to participate, to engage? What kind of change can we make, and how can we make it?
Sample Icebreakers and Opening Exercises
Think of someone who is involved in some meaningful way with your community. How is this person involved, what is he or she doing, and how did the involvement come about? How did you come to know about this person?
Think of a time when you did something that felt “civic” or “participatory” in some way. What were you doing and why were you doing it? What felt “engaged” or “involved” or “civic” about it? How did it feel to be doing this?
Images and Discussion Tools
The following links contain the selected image (or image details, if the image is unavailable for web delivery), background information, “Looking Questions,” further discussion questions, activity ideas, and resources. Consult the Engage! pilot site pages to see how the pilot libraries put Engage! into action.
- The County Election, 1852
- The Veteran in a New Field
- Selma-to-Montgomery March for Voting Rights in 1965
- Suffrage parade, women march to win their right to vote in New York City, May 6, 1912
- The Migration of the Negro, Panel #59: In the North they had the freedom to vote
- The “We Can Do It” Poster—War Production Co-ordinating Committee, 1942–1943