As LPBC kicks off a new year for the Leadership Engage, Grow and Focus programs, you’ll notice a common theme running through all our programming: civic engagement.
Civic engagement is, by definition, the ways in which ordinary citizens participate in the life of their community in order to improve conditions for others or to help shape that community's future.
For those of us who are fully involved in LPBC, civic engagement is the core of why we participate in the organization. After all, we are all about volunteering, belonging to and leading groups, attending meetings, and working with fellow leaders to address problems and find solutions in Palm Beach County.
To me, civic engagement is important for one key reason. It’s a core principle of our democracy.
In the U.S., our political framework requires us all to be involved, informed and engaged. We are a “government of the people,” and we rely on elections, petitions, and public deliberation for civic involvement. It’s the role of the people to exercise their rights to participate, and the responsibility of the government to respond and respect them.
Unfortunately, our responsibilities as citizens aren’t being met in many communities.
In recent decades, Americans' participation in civic life has declined dramatically. In fact, during the past 25 years or so, Americans' participation in public meetings is down by 35 percent and participation in clubs and civic organizations has been cut by more than half, according to research by Harvard Professor Robert Putnam. This decline comes as our increasingly globalized world is becoming more complex.
Let’s change this trend – together -- in Palm Beach County.
I encourage all of you to get involved in LPBC’s programs, as well as our events and committees, and bring back the focus on civic engagement and promote quality of life in our community.
Kim Jones is president of LPBC’s Board of Governors.