Take a Break, Read a Book!

So you say you want to take a break but you still want to keep up with those timely topics of: Democracy and Spooookkkyyy Season? Guess what! You can tune out from some of the daily excitement, on both topics, with a …book! Read a little -have a little conversation, feel done with the conversation (I mean really, obviously chocolate is a better treat than a lollipop,right?!) and excuse yourself back to that page turner you’ve got going on!!

If you want to read something to keep up with your friends talking about Democracy, social issues, and past or current politics, check out the Five Days for Democracy collection. Feeling extra inspired? You can check out some of the resources on the 5DaysforDemocracy website, take a challenge or watch a video!

Or maybe you want to look over your shoulder a lot, think way too much about that strange noise, or stress eat some crunchy foods? Well then you might want to read a Spooky Book for Adults! (And keep checking back as new books are being added all the time!)

Me? Maybe I’ll give out chocolate *and* lollipops this year!

Whatever you pick, I hope it’s all treats and no tricks! -Stacey

What’s Your Voting Plan?

I’m sure you’ve seen this question recently, maybe many times recently, and I had been brushing it off. I vote. I was feeling all confident about knowing what I need to do, with my absentee ballot requested waaaay back in Summer. (Perhaps a little smug about my readiness to make sure my voice is heard?) And today I got a little reality check. I’m confident in my in-person voting, but there’s more to learn about absentee ballots….

Did you know postage due on your ballot might be greater than the value of one USPS forever stamp ? Due to size and weight, Cuyahoga County’s ballot may cost .65 and first class postage is .55. How do you know the cost for sure? You can stop in your local United States Post Office to get it weighed and postmarked, or call your county’s Board of Elections to confirm the cost. The Secretary of State’s site also includes information that you should not use a postage meter or online service to “affix postage” but can “use a postage label purchased at a USPS customer service window or vending machine” and “the date on the label is the postmark.” You should read the whole list for a better understanding, but key ideas have been highlighted in case someone is compelled to skim… (again, please read it all as it’s pretty short and very important!)

You can also drop your absentee ballot off at your local board of elections once early voting starts on Tuesday, October 6. (If you live in Cuyahoga County, October 6th is also the day when absentee ballots will be mailed out.)

If you’re a regular voter by mail and you have more tips for us newbies, please share your knowledge!

Alright so TL:DR: please be sure you’re prepared to vote on November 3, 2020!

– Stacey

5Days4Democracy: Advocacy

Welcome to day 4 of City Club Cleveland’s 5 Days For Democracy! I hope you’ve been enjoying the great content shared and have hopefully learned something new along the way. Today, as we welcome October, we celebrate advocacy!

What is advocacy? Advocacy is most simply defined as any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others. Read more about what advocacy means and the different types of advocacy (community advocacy vs. legal advocacy) in this article from the Philanthropy Journal. You may wonder- how is advocacy different from lobbying? Well, lobbying is a type of advocacy in which you advocate for a or against a specific legislation, but not all advocacy means lobbying!

What activities comprise advocacy work? There are *so many* ways that Americans of all ages can get involved in work to support their beliefs and views. Here are a few examples of advocacy work:

  • Organize: Organize a meeting or rally with others who share your views to mobilize for change! This could be coffee with your neighbors over Zoom, it doesn’t need to be a big meeting to make big change.
  • Educate Legislators: Provide information to legislators on issues you care about. Many non-profits help you to advocate by providing fact sheets or scripts to use when reaching out to legislators. Not sure who represents you? Find out using Ballotpedia.org here.
  • Research: We librarians know the importance of research! Find relevant resources that exhibit your story. Check out this list of institutes and think tanks put together by the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy. Find legislation that affects you and track it’s progress in Congress here at GovTrack.us .
  • Nonpartisan Voter Education: Inform your community on the issues you care about and how to vote for change! Nonpartisan groups like the League of Women Voters can help you to become an advocate and get involved.
  • Lobby: As a member of the general public, you can advocate for or against specific legislation through grassroots lobbying efforts! It is citizen participation in government and a great way to make your voice heard.

Feeling like you are already working hard as an advocate? The Ohio ACLU shared this list of useful tips on how to become a better advocate, including the importance of challenging our own biases when we look to become an advocate for others. The ACLU is another great resource for those looking to get involved, and you can check out the Ohio ACLU’s advocacy page here .

It might seem more challenging to be an advocate now amidst the pandemic, but according to the Institute for Free Speech, “Even when we’re stuck at home, the groups we join to support shared causes continue to give us a voice in Washington and our state capitals.” thanks in a large part to online advocacy! Use social media to organize virtual letter writing campaigns with friends or use Twitter to engage with public officials. You don’t need to leave your house to be an awesome advocate.

Image from the Institute for Free Speech.

5Days4Democracy: Protests

Protests are as American as apple pie. Since that December day in 1773 when colonists dumped 92,000 pounds of tea into Boston Harbor to protest the Tea Act of 1773, Americans have used protests to make their voices heard and to advocate for change.

Throughout our history peaceful protests, which are protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution, have resulted in significant changes to our laws, our culture, and even our Constitution. Here a few of our most well known protests:

Women’s Suffrage Parade, March 13, 1913

This march, on the eve of President elect Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, was the first of many large demonstration in favor of giving women the right to vote. It would take another seven years to get the 19th Amendment ratified, which finally gave women the vote, though in practice it was primarily white women who got to vote. It would take another twenty years for Asian-American immigrants to gain suffrage and 45 years for Black American and Native American voter rights to be guaranteed with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. While suffrage for all women is now part of the Constitution, women are still waiting for protections under the Equal Rights Amendment of 1923 to be ratified.

We are all familiar with Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but did you know that idea for the famous march came from civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph in 1941? Randolph organized a march to protest FDR’s New Deal programs and the exclusion of Black people from post WWII jobs. The march never happened because Roosevelt issued an order to prohibit discrimination in hiring for government and defense jobs. In 1963 Randolph, backed by the NAACP and King, with the support of Southern Christian Leadership Conference joined forces for one large march for jobs and freedom. Their joined forces led to the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Further protests let to the Voting Rights Act a year later in 1965.

The Stonewall Riot, June 28, 1969

From 1952-1987 homosexuality was listed as a mental illness in the DSM. In the 50’s and 60’s it was not unusual for the police to raid gay bars and harass patrons. When police raided the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, people had had enough and fought back. Protests lasted for six days and resulted in a more cohesive gay and lesbian community and lead to the development of new gay rights organizations. The one year anniversary was recognized with the first Pride parade. Since the 1990s the Supreme Court has ruled on a number of landmark cases that decriminalized homosexuality, legalizing gay marriage, and recently, making it illegal to fire an employee based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Americans have taken to the streets to protest against wars, nuclear weapons, and tax policies. They have taken to the streets in solidarity. They have marched in favor of science and rights for marginalized communities. They have marched for women and the environment and gun control laws.

Today there are active protests occurring throughout the United States. Citizens have taken to the streets to protest police brutality against Black people. Americans are preparing rallies and marches against evictions and the inclusion of 1619 Project in school curriculums. Citizens are marching for Breonna Taylor, in remembrance of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and in support of the police.

Democracy depends on the participation of citizens. Protests are just one means of participating and advocating for change.

5Days4Democracy: Citizenship

On September 18th, 2020, Semanur, Adult Reference Associate, shared exciting news with the Rocky River Public Library staff, “today I am a US citizen”. Semanur was immediately showered with congratulatory sentiments from the RRPL staff. We were all so very happy for her and her family.

I reached out to Semanur to see if she would like to share parts of her journey towards US citizenship. Below are a few questions I asked Semanur.

How does it feel to become a US citizen?

Semanur: I feel grounded and safe now that I am officially a citizen. I feel grateful that I am finally a part of this amazing community.

Can you share some of the requirements needed for citizenship?

Semanur: My family and I needed to be actively living in United States with our permanent residency for about 5 years before we could apply for citizenship. There was loads of paperwork to be done. After confirmation, we waited for our interview date to pass our oral, written, and reading exams. After passing, we received the date for our oath ceremony and pledged our loyalty to the United States and obtained our naturalization certificate. 

What are some advantages for you in becoming a US citizen?

Semanur: We can vote, and we can apply for an American passport which is necessary for people who travel a lot. Another advantage is it helps with job applications because some jobs require citizenship.

Thank you, Semanur, for giving me a glimpse into your journey towards citizenship and for your perseverance in becoming a United States citizen.

I discovered this statement on the website for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,

Citizenship is the common thread that connects all Americans. We are a nation bound not by race or religion, but by the shared values of freedom, liberty, and equality. 

Throughout our history, the United States has welcomed newcomers from all over the world. Immigrants have helped shape and define the country we know today. Their contributions help preserve our legacy as a land of freedom and opportunity. More than 200 years after our founding, naturalized citizens are still an important part of our democracy. By becoming a U.S. citizen, you too will have a voice in how our nation is governed.

Please consider participating in 5Days4Democracy by signing up here to receive Daily Challenges and learn how to strengthen your role in building our democracy!

Mary



5Days4Democracy – Why Democracy?

For me, the answer to “why democracy?” is an easy one. America’s democratic system of government grants me many freedoms that other countries’ citizens are not automatically given.

Two of my favorites are my freedom of speech and the right to vote for my choice in our elections. And while I admit that it’s hard for me sometimes when I see neighbors’ yard signs in support of a candidate running against the one I support, I’m sure glad I’m able to put up my own yard sign. When I feel myself getting aggravated by such a display, it’s important for me to take a step back and realize that this disagreement is actually our country’s Constitution at work. I take a deep breath and know that it’s not just okay that my neighbor might not agree with me, it is their right, too!

During these five days for democracy, think about how opposing yard signs make you feel. And then take your own deep breath and be grateful that you too live in a country where you can express such a thing.

So, help celebrate these 5 Days for Democracy and sign up here to receive emails this week that will help you better understand, celebrate and think of ways to improve what democracy does for you. Oh, and don’t even think about stealing any yard signs!

-Carol

5Days4Democracy – Why Democracy?

Why democracy? This is a question that has been wrestled with since the Greeks first introduced a system of political reforms called demokratia, or “rule by the people” (from demos, “the people,” and kratos, or “power”). Today, we think of democracy as giving each person a voice, but in Ancient Greek only males had a voice, and, of course, only males with a certain amount of property and social status.

We’ve come quite a long way since some Ancient Greeks gathered to discuss their fates in the square of Athens. Modern democracies help to ensure that oppressed groups who would otherwise be excluded from politics have their voices heard – they can vote for policies and people they believe in. Modern democracies are also flexible; they have built-in checks and balances forcing regular electoral turnover and are able to adjust as society changes.

American democracy, due to geographic and population limitations, was formed as an indirect, representative democracy – we elect representatives who we think will give us a voice in our government. This however, means that we have to participate as citizens. At the very least, we have to vote, but citizenship also requires being aware of who is running, not just in the national elections, but in our local school board or city council elections. Democracy functions best when citizens are involved.

Overlapping silhouettes of Hands in a watercolour texture.

Why democracy? It gives us a voice – but to have that voice, we have to put in the work. National Voter Registration Day just passed, but you have until 10/5/2020 to register to vote before the November 3rd election. You can do that online here, print a blank form here or stop in at your local library to pick up a form. For additional information on voter registration or mail-in voting, check out RRPL’s 2020 General Election information page – or give us a call – we’ll be glad to answer your questions.

To get started researching who is running, try Ballotpedia; it’s a great source for non-partisan election information. It allows you to look up your ballot, find candidates in national and local elections, and take an in-depth look at candidates’ positions. Judge4Yourself provides independent non-partisan ratings of judicial candidates before every election. If you want to dig a little deeper, here are some other ways to participate in our democracy (from AARP.com):

  • Check out candidates’ websites – see what their stances are on issues you’re concerned about.
  • If one of the candidates is an incumbent in the House of Representatives or Senate, go to Congress.gov and research their voting records, find out what issues they concentrate on, and how to contact them.
  • Attend campaign events, including town halls (or participate in them  by phone or online) and informal coffees and other stops the candidates might be making in your community. Local party offices, public libraries and other community organizations usually have information on such events.
  • Find the campaign office and call or drop in. Candidates want your vote. Make them work for it. Ask to speak to the candidate or her or his representative and get your questions answered about the issues that matter to you.
  • Check the candidates’ answers on important issues. Factcheck.org, which is run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, keeps track of candidates’ statements and claims.

Why democracy? Our democracy will work best if all Americans can have full and equal access to participation – and if all Americans participate fully.

~ Dori

5Days4Democracy -There’s Still Time!

Tomorrow is the first official day of the Five Days for Democracy event and you can sign up now, or any time this week, to receive Monday’s email! This might be the easiest program *ever* to join but will hopefully get you thinking and taking action, which can be hard work. It’s good for us flex those decision making muscles, it’s even better to feel like you made a positive difference for yourself and others. During these five days of emails, full of things to read or watch, small actions we can take every day or once in a while, and encourage discussion, all adding a little zing to your inbox! And who doesn’t need a little zing?!

Five days. Five challenges. Five ways to strengthen your role in our democracy.

—Stacey

5Days4Democracy -Join Us!

One of the things I most appreciate about being a citizen of the United States of America? I can make a difference each time I vote! And in-between elections, I can contact elected representatives, from local to Federal, when an issue is important to me!

From Monday, September 28 to Friday, October 2, Rocky River Public Library, our fellow public library systems in Cuyahoga County, and City Club of Cleveland are asking you to participate in Five Days for Democracy—a week dedicated to spending just a little bit of time each day thinking about what democracy means to you, why it’s important, and why it’s worth fighting for.

When you sign up, you’ll receive an email each day packed with opportunities to explore different facets of our democracy, in all its aspirations and failings. From listening to a podcast to watching a video, reading an article or responding to a call to action, each day you’ll pick one challenge to complete. And maybe you’d like to start reading a little something right now, like a little prep work for the week? Check out on of the many titles suggested in the 5 Days for Democracy collection!

Five days. Five challenges. Five ways to strengthen your role in our democracy.

Sign up at Five Days for Democracy and get ready to embrace your voting power!

—Stacey