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Hindsight blog

Muse on participatory democracy and the roles of all citizens including students, artists, the media, and of course, politicians. Presented by the Weisman Art Museum with the exhibition "Hindsight is Always 20/20".

Main | October 2008 »

September 29, 2008

Who Makes Change?

There has been a lot of talk this election about “who makes change?� – John McCain or Barack Obama. For the last several weeks, I’ve been traveling across “middle America� (Georgia, Tennessee, Kansas, upstate New York, Connecticut, as well as Minnesota) to promote my recent book, The Citizen Solution: How You Can Make a Difference. This has made me more convinced than ever that this is the wrong conversation.

The book tells many stories of ordinary people who have developed the skills and confidence to address problems and to build better communities – from inner city communities wanting to educate their children, to Minnesota towns integrating veterans as civic leaders, from suburban communities struggling against a hypercompetitive “me first� culture to young people organizing to tame global warming.

Everywhere, I’ve been impressed with the desire of people to get into the action – to become agents of change themselves, not simply consumers or spectators of politics. For my first blog, I’d like to encourage all readers of whatever views, in the spirit of the cross-partisan November Fifth Coalition, to send email questions something like these to the second presidential debate, a “town hall� on October 7th. They need to be expressed in terms of a particular issue you care about -- health, the environment, the economy, etc.

• Do you think that you can make the changes we need on this question [ ], or will many American citizens need to become involved to get the changes we need?

• If you believe that all Americans need to be involved in addressing this question [ }, not only on election day but every day, how will you organize your presidency to make this happen?

To submit a question, click here. You will go to a My Space debate site about the debates, the official 2008 Presidential Debate site, with a chance to submit a question.

September 8, 2008

Blogger: Dara Strolovitch

Dara Z. Strolovitch is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. See her U of M profile here. Strolovitch's research brings together interests in representation, the politics of marginalized groups, and the causes and consequences of social, political, and economic inequalities, focusing on interest groups and social movements, the politics of race, class, gender, and sexuality, and on political representation for disadvantaged populations and for groups underrepresented in electoral politics. She is the author of Affirmative Advocacy: Race, Class, and Gender in Interest Group Politics, and has published several articles on topics including hate crime, anti-discrimination policy, and Hurricane Katrina. She is currently working on a book about the challenges and opportunities facing advocacy groups in times of national crises, and is also collaborating on a study of protesters at the 2008 national party conventions in Denver and Saint Paul.

Blogger: Camille Gage

Artist Camille J. Gage began her creative journey in her teens, writing music and touring with a variety of bands including the all-female alt-rock band Tetes Noires. She later segued into public art and mixed media performance, often with a topical edge, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Gage’s work explores the duality and temporal nature of life, the genetic and emotional bonds that connect families through the generations, and contemporary social issues. As an artist and engaged citizen, Gage continues to be inspired by the intersection of art and political expression and believes that artists who choose this path have a role to play in shaping the public consciousness. She has exhibited and performed widely, and is a founding member of Form + Content Gallery Read more about Camille Gage.

Blogger: Alex Fink

Alex Fink is an organizer for the Citizens’ Learning and Leadership Network (CLLN) and a student at the University of Minnesota. In addition to his work with the CLLN, he works with SCOPE, the Student Committee on Public Engagement, and has worked in co-curricular student leadership development for the past two years. Fink is interested in education, sustainability, leadership, and questions about how people live together and consider their mutual responsibilities as citizens of a society, as well as how people organize their experiences.

Blogger: Harry Boyte

Harry Boyte is co-director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship in the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and author of several works on citizenship, politics, and democracy. His most recent book is The Citizen Solution: How You Can Make a Difference. He grew up in the South and was shaped by his involvement in the civil rights movement as a young man, working for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Boyte is married to Marie Louise Strom, a South African democracy educator, and they live part of the year in Johannesburg, South Africa. He likes to play the clarinet and run.

About the Hindsight Blog

We want to hear from you! The Weisman Art Museum invites you to take part in discussions about art and politics, democracy and citizenship, rhetoric and realities, the speechifying of politicians and the free speech of the people, and the role of media in shaping information and perceptions. These are just some of the ideas and issues swirling in our lives, conversations, arts, media, and nation this election season. There is much to discuss— and much at stake—for an informed American citizenry. Let's use this blog as a public space for lively discussions and expressions of varied viewpoints. We welcome your ideas and opinions.

In the Weisman exhibition "Hindsight is Always 20/20," artist R. Luke DuBois wittily portrays in word charts the ways that American presidents—from George Washington to George W. Bush—have used specific words and rhetorical devices to sway and persuade Congress and the American public. Today this is more the case than ever before, with many streams of media from broadcast to online sources instantly relaying politicians' speeches to audiences at home and abroad on a 24/7 basis.

Along with the Weisman’s Hindsight exhibition and related programs providing forums for discussion with artists and scholars, we also invite you to participate in a conversation with us and our guest bloggers. All connected to the University of Minnesota as faculty, staff, and students, our guest bloggers take varied perspectives on ideas about power, democracy, art, and media. Let the blogging begin!


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