By Erin Kelley
In January I attended the first-ever Civic Seminary hosted by Citizen University in Seattle. Over the course of 3 ½ days, Citizen University founders Eric Liu and Jená Cane, C.U. staff, and a cohort of 11 dedicated community leaders discussed how we can spark a renewed sense of #civiclove in our communities by creating Civic Saturday events.
What is Civic Saturday?
Civic Saturdays are meant to help us practice being together as citizens; that is, as those willing to show up in public life together. Civic Saturday is a civic analogue to a faith gathering. Friends and strangers congregate in a common place to nurture a spirit of shared purpose, wrestle with moral questions regarding what it means to be an American, and develop a sense of civic character.
On Civic Saturdays, we will gather around America’s civic religion and our sacred creed of liberty, equality, and self-government . . . and all the messiness and moral questioning that brings. These gatherings are not about (nor aim to replace!) traditional religious practices. Nor are they about partisan politics.
Rather, at Civic Saturday, we will sing together, listen to poetry, read civic scripture (great and provocative American texts), hear a civic sermon, and, above all else, be in fellowship with one another. We will support and uplift one another to maintain the energy needed to show up in civic life.
America is not held together by “blood and soil,” by race or religion, or by party affiliation. America is held together by a set of guiding beliefs – a common creed – that unites us even when we disagree about its meaning and argue about its intent.
In fact, as Eric Liu stressed to me and my fellow “civic seminarians,” Civic Saturdays are not about reducing the number of arguments we have about policies. Instead, Civic Saturdays are about helping us all have smarter arguments that acknowledge a shared heritage and humanity.
Spirit & Place will host at least two Civic Saturdays in 2018 and is thrilled to say the Indianapolis Public Library is our venue partner.
The first will be on Saturday, April 28 from 10:30 to 11:30am at the Glendale Library (6101 N. Keystone Ave.). A second Civic Saturday will be held on Saturday, July 28 at Central Library (40 E. St. Clair St.) from 10:30 to 11:30am as well.