Skip to content
Search

Latest Stories

Top Stories

Civic engagement should not be performed 'All By Myself'

Eric Carmen at the piano

The late Eric Carmen's hit "All By Myself" can inspire us to engage in deeper forms of activism.

Tom Hill/WireImage/Getty Images

Daley-Harris is the author of “Reclaiming Our Democracy: Every Citizen’sGuide to Transformational Advocacy” and the founder of RESULTS and Civic Courage. This is part of a series focused on better understanding transformational advocacy: citizens awakening to their power.

With the death of singer-songwriter Eric Carmen last month and Earth Day coming up, I got to thinking about Carmen’s song “All By Myself” and how deeper forms of activism are both essential to making change and a powerful antidote to our growing epidemic of loneliness.



In a New York Times essay last year, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said that loneliness not only leads to poorer health but is also “associated with reduced productivity in the workplace, worse performance in school, and diminished civic engagement.”

Diminished civic engagement was the focus of a 2022 National Public Radio interview with “Bowling Alone” author Robert Putnam titled, “Politics and America’s Loneliness Epidemic.” Putnam discussed “bonding social capital” which links you to people who are like you and “bridging social capital” which links you to people unlike you. Putnam warned: “Bridging social capital ... is way down. And that is encouraging polarization.”

That’s where people like Bill Barron come in. Barron – lives in Utah and organizes climate talks in places like Wyoming, an oil and gas state – seeks out conversations with people who are not like him.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

Barron had never been engaged in politics, but an invitation from Citizens’ Climate Lobby to meet with his members of Congress in Washington, D.C, flipped a switch. “I was shaking like a leaf,” Barron said after his first-ever meeting in Sen. Orin Hatch’s office (R). “But walking out of that meeting I realized that this is exactly what we need to be doing, letting our leaders know what we want them to do.”

After starting several chapters in Utah, he was asked to manage a group of states where there wasn’t much climate activism yet, so he spent some of his time organizing in Wyoming.

“Gillette, Wyoming, is big coal country,” Barron told me, “and our local organizer was active in Democratic politics. I stressed that we needed to invite everyone, and she told me that the last time they had an event and invited Republicans they had to call the police, and I thought ‘Oh, my God.’ We had about 25 people, including people who totally disagreed and spoke up during the presentation, but I said, ‘Can we agree that there is change happening, but we may disagree on how it’s happening?’

“One woman, who had a 39-year career as a coal miner, commented, ‘We know we need to do something about climate, and putting a price on pollution makes sense.’ Another person, a climate denier, came to several of my gatherings. Seemingly surprised by the polite, nonpartisan discussions, he listened rather than being confrontational, although he still offered the ‘denial’ brochures he’d brought with him.”

Barron was acting on several key aspects of transformational advocacy. One is practicing partnership, not partisanship. Another is bringing new people in and forming them into chapters, or as Eric Carmen would say, “Don’t wanna be all by myself anymore.” Signing online petitions won’t cure our epidemic of loneliness, but the people who said yes to Barron’s invitations are demonstrating an important step: citizens awakening to their power.

If not now, when?

Read More

Young girl holding a sparkler and wearing an American flag shirt
Rebecca Nelson/Getty Images

Three approaches to Independence Day

Anderson edited "Leveraging: A Political, Economic and Societal Framework," has taught at five universities and ran for the Democratic nomination for a Maryland congressional seat in 2016.

July Fourth is not like Christmas or Rosh Hashanah, holidays that create a unified sense of celebration among celebrants. On Christmas, Christians throughout the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. On Rosh Hashanah, Jews throughout the world celebrate the Jewish New Year.

Yet on the Fourth of July, apart from the family gatherings, barbecues and drinking, we take different approaches. Some Americans celebrate the declaration of America's independence from Great Britain and especially the value of freedom. And some Americans reject the holiday, because they believe it highlights the self-contradiction of the United States, which created a nation in which some would be free and some would be enslaved. And other Americans are conflicted between these two points of view.

Keep ReadingShow less
Fireworks on July 4
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

One country, one constitution, one destiny

Lockard is an Iowa resident who regularly contributes to regional newspapers and periodicals. She is working on the second of a four-book fictional series based on Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice."

“One country, one constitution, one destiny,” Daniel Webster said in a historic 1837 speech defending the American Union.

This of Fourth of July, 187 years after Webster’s speech and the 248th anniversary of the signing of our Declaration of Independence, Webster would no doubt be dismayed to find his quote reconstrued by popular opinion to read something like this:

“Divided country, debated constitution, and as for destiny, we’re going to hell in a hand-basket.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Rich Harwood
Harwood Institute

Meet the change leaders: Rich Harwood

Nevins is co-publisher of The Fulcrum and co-founder and board chairman of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund.

After working on more than 20 political campaigns and two highly respected nonprofits, Rich Harwood set out to create something entirely different. He founded what is now known as The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation in 1988, when he was just 27 years old (and is now its president). Soon after, he wrote the ground-breaking report “Citizen and Politics: A View from Main Street,” the first national study to uncover that Americans did not feel apathetic about politics, but instead held a deep sense of anger and disconnection.

Over the past 30 years, Rich has innovated and developed a new philosophy and practice for how communities can solve shared problems, create a culture of shared responsibility and deepen people’s civic faith. The Harwood practice of Turning Outward has spread to all 50 states and is being used in 40 countries.

Keep ReadingShow less
Person holding an upside down American flag

A woman protests Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, by waving an upside down American Flag.

Watchara Phomicinda/MediaNews Group/The Press-Enterprise via Getty Images

Distress signals: The American flag as a political weapon

Becvar is co-publisher of The Fulcrum and executive director of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund, the parent organization of The Fulcrum.

Comparing the year leading up to the 2020 presidential election to this year, it’s striking how much has changed in the American consciousness. The divisions that deepened after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection often seem irreparable. Once unimaginable discord with family, friends and neighbors has now become commonplace. This new reality includes a further divide over what the American flag represents.

Keep ReadingShow less
book cover

The road from conflict to convergence

More than ever, Americans need to de-escalate conflict and constructively engage with others to find better solutions to problems. “From Conflict to Convergence: Coming Together to Solve Tough Problems,” a new book by Mariah Levison and Robert Fersh, is an incisive, hands-on guide designed to help citizens do just that.

Fersh is the founder and senior advisor of the Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, a nonprofit organization founded in 2009 to promote consensus solutions to issues of domestic and international importance. Fersh formerly worked for three congressional committees.

Keep ReadingShow less