Civic Engagement Toolkit

Look

If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” — Bishop T.D. Jakes

Looking means exploring your own personal motivations. The first step on the way to civic engagement is an exploration of self. Without knowing where your passion lies, you won’t know where you can make the biggest difference.

So the first question is always “What kinds of issues and community problems do I care about most?” Here are a few ways to explore this question.

What’s Your Current Level of Civic Engagement?

We’ve created a short quiz to help you measure your current engagement level.

So, how did you do?

As you think back to your answers, give some thought to the issues/problems that motivated you to get involved. Are there any patterns? Any issues that kept popping up? If so, these areas could represent an opportunity to increase your engagement.

If the issue you picked seems too big or complex to tackle, the next step is refining the question toward something that you can act on.

Refining the Question

Feeling overwhelmed by an issue? Let’s walk through an example of how you narrow down your focus.

Let’s take the question: “Why are outcomes for so many on the north side of St. Louis so different than for other St. Louisans?”

The possible answers are going to be many: poverty, a legacy of institutional racism, lack of economic development, lack of opportunities, failed city services, educational disparities, etc. To get toward something actionable, it helps to be more specific. For example, “Why are there such disparities on healthcare for so many on the north side?”

Now we’re getting closer. But there are many indicators of health – which ones interest or motivate you? Maybe, “Why are infant mortality rates so high for so many on the north side?”

Now you have a specific question you can start digging your teeth into!

This process of finding your focus isn’t always easy, and there are no right or wrong answers – it’s all about finding the issues and causes that make you want to get involved.

When you’re ready, let’s move on to the next step – LEARN.

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