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The Journal – Summer 2021 – Civics: Will They Join Us Together or Tear Us Further Apart?

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What is the state of civics in Kansas and across the country? Are we knowledgeable enough about government to truly engage with it? Do we still possess the capacity for argument, persuasion, compromise, and tolerance of disagreement?

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Because it significantly accelerated the virtual accessibility of government meetings, the coronavirus pandemic ushered in a Zoom boom of sorts for civic engagement in Kansas. The Journal’s Stan Finger reports on this development and explores what happens after we log off from the pandemic in the Summer 2021 edition of the Kansas Leadership Center’s print and digital magazine.

This edition explores how technology is not enough to promote civic engagement. Another story by Finger explores how, in hopes of making local government operations less opaque, communities across the state have launched civic engagement academies that are providing a pathway into local elected and appointed offices for some residents.

Yet much of our civic interest is captured by national rather than local events. The passions unleased by the presidential election drove record-high voting. Pandemic-related restrictions ensured government meetings attracted increased attention.

But if this is the beginning of a golden era of civic engagement, it is also one that has brought its fair share of conflict. While some of that conflict might be useful, Journal managing editor Chris Green challenges readers to avoid caricaturing their political opponents in the process.

This edition is for readers who want to explore the following complex questions:
What is the state of civics in Kansas and across the country? Are we knowledgeable enough about government to truly engage with it? Do we still possess the capacity for argument, persuasion, compromise, and tolerance of disagreement?

Also featured in the edition:

  • Stunning photography by Jeff Tuttle helps illustrate a story about a new generation of ranchers going against the grain to increase their profits while benefitting wildlife.
  • How Kansans are attempting to spur community dialogue about the state’s history of racist violence.
  • Community leaders say speaking out and acting is important for combating hateful actions against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
  • An effort by leaders in Crawford County to band together in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be paying dividends more than a year later.
  • Rural and red Marshall County has become one of the state’s leaders in COVID-19 vaccination. Here is how it happened.
  • A new model offers hope for saving rural hospitals like the one in Oberlin from extinction. But it comes with difficult trade-offs.

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