“Democracy Network”—an idea conceived at OpenGrounds, now a CIO

Schuyler “Sky” Miller started Democracy Network with the simple idea that people who are more informed about policies and politics will make better judgments at the polling booth than people who are not. In our political world, it is easy to get carried away with the stream of partisan media being put out by political parties and end up apathetic about the government’s role in society. Democracy Network aims to work against that tide at UVA and in Charlottesville .

Within Democracy Network, there are three main initiatives: education, discussion, and engagement. These initiatives are meant to increase student awareness and action in politics in order to create a more “informed citizenry”—which our founder Thomas Jefferson said is “indispensable for the proper functioning” of a country.

The education initiative aims to work with people of all ages in Charlottesville, ranging from children in local elementary schools to UVA students, to teach them more about how local, regional, and national politics work. The discussion initiative will start meaningful conversations among local stakeholders about the democratic system that exists in the U.S and how people ought to best utilize it to voice their views. Finally, the engagement portion of the group aims to stir engagement in the community and to encourage people to become more politically active. Eventually, the group will work to connect passionate students with resources and organizations that will help them further their cause and efforts in promoting democracy and political involvement.

As an intern at OpenGrounds, Sky naturally spends a lot of time in the Corner Studio, so it comes as no surprise that he conceived the idea for Democracy Network during a conversation in a group here. As Democracy Network expands operations and recruits new members, Sky sees the group using OpenGrounds more and more.

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Apart from meeting here once a week, the group plans to hold conversations around what it means to be an involved citizen in the 21st century here during the semesters to come. Additionally, to further increase engagement, Sky is considering holding a competition that would project people’s own definitions of democracy to a broader audience.

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