About Civic Literacy

After 16 years of running nonpartisan issue policy campaigns, I've come to "soap box" on a few anecdotal things:

1.  The word "politics" has a few definitions, two of which are:  a) the art or science of passing or not passing laws (issue politics), and b) the art or science of building and maintaining power (electoral politics).  So if you are trying to convince your city council to change a stoplight, that is a policy campaign.  If you're working to get someone elected, that's an electoral campaign.

2.  I believe debate should be part of our learning fiber from an early age.  We should get comfortable with disagreement and get skilled at working out differences.  This should be a central part of common core curricula in my opinion.

3.  Dealing with international affairs is a reality.  Both Dems and Republicans have become more isolationist and ignorant in their views, but we have to stay engaged.

4.  Only 36% of Americans can actually name the three branches of government.  We're not very good at civics.  Gravitate to trustworthy, unbiased outlets of information like Frontline and Wikipedia

5.  Very generally speaking, Republicans trust corporations more than government, Democrats trust government more than corporations, and Libertarians don't trust either.

6.  We don't understand how the "system" works, so we're vulnerable to believing conspiracy theories and hyperbole.  When we do not understand something, we tend to assume the worst.  Most Americans generally agree on a broad vision about what society should look like, but we fight as if we do not.  Because our civic literacy is bad, we're unable to disagree without getting really angry. 

 

About Stuff I Do and Have Done

I founded Ujoin, a tech startup company and graduate of Blue Startups -- one of the nation's top accelerators.  We help organizations, everyday citizens, and businesses build their email lists and turn those lists into really effective advocacy on policies. After working with industry leaders' platforms for years, I started work on a better, less expensive platform.

It was not a love of politics per se that brought me to this work, but a resolute sense of civic duty to progress society; and therein policy became the medium.  I accept that democratic societies demand a higher level of engagement to keep power in check, and I work for better civic literacy across sectors and demographics. I'm also interested in accounting for the influence of money on policy decisions, elections, and court appointments; and those influences' effects on sociocultural, economic, and environmental systems within them. Generally, I also believe we're here to have fun, live healthily, and care for one another, so I strive to participate with that notion in mind.

I recently served as executive director for Voter Owned Hawaii, a non partisan, nonprofit group working to modernize Hawaii's system for citizen-funded elections. During the past fifteen years, I've built and managed issue-oriented campaigns at the municipal, county, and state levels; and managed staff and volunteers for federal efforts. Before coming to Hawaii, I earned a BA at Xavier University, worked as a campus organizer with the Massachusettes Public Interest Research Group, and worked for the Fund For Public Interest Research. In 2004 I managed volunteers in over 20 precincts in Columbus, OH for the Kerry campaign, and in 2012 created and led a PAC to support clean elections-focused candidates. I have provided expertise for organizations such as AFL-CIO, Sierra Club, Save The Children, the Public Interest Research Group In Michigan, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and others.