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Heartland Democracy is dedicated to winning over hearts and minds to just and sustainable goals. We do so through a variety of related activities: we identify our principles and values, we describe them in a coherent and comprehensive way, we bring together facts and analyses to reach our conclusions, and we deliver our communications to the public. We use a variety of strategies to reach folks who might be interested in a discussion of ideas, values, and actions. We approach existing groups wherever two or more are gathered to talk about their hopes, concerns, and ideas. We encourage folks to create new discussion groups or book clubs as well. Over time, we will continue to provide discussion guides, provocative questions, information, and writings to discuss. Finally, when you’re ready to move from discussion to action, we provide a range of options, from signing our Reforming Democracy Pledge to volunteering for Heartland Democracy to investigating what other likeminded groups are doing to advance legislation in the state capitals.
One strategy we use is to crystallize our values in an initiative that, if adopted, would fulfill our principles. Our plan is to run a public engagement campaign on the recommendations and values below. Always, throughout our work, we are focused on winning over hearts and minds to the goals of the just and sustainable communities we all desire. We invite you to review our first major project’s recommendations below.
Our core program, Empowering U is a deep civic empowerment program that uses discussions, values, and stories to engage participants in meaningful ways. We work with host organizations already bringing participants through their doors. Participants finish with a sustained commitment to involvement in community, politics, and self-governance. In this way we are reviving active citizenship among the previously uninvolved and uninvited. The F.R. Bigelow and St. Paul Foundations and Youthprise have provided grants enabling us to scale up the program in 2012, working with host organizations including Twin Cities Rise!, 180 Degrees, and Ujamaa Place. The F. R. Bigelow Foundation has renewed its support for 2013, allowing us to bring Empowering U to Gordon Parks High School and to New Americans at Roseville Public Schools' Adult Learning Center.
In 2010, state leaders asked us to coordinate strategic initiatives from five allied groups and coalitions for the new leaders of Minnesota, linked by unifying values and themes. Possibly the first of its kind in Minnesota and a model for other states, it is a coherent, non-partisan vision articulated through themes and values common to practical progressives working across a range of issues. We provided it to the Dayton administration and plan to bring our own Values Framework to the Legislature, media, other groups, and the public in late 2012.
Heartland Democracy issued its 21st Century Voter Registration report in February 2009; widely hailed, the report made the case for universal, automatic voter registration. We testified several times before the Minnesota Legislature on a bill to make voter registration automatic. The Legislature passed the bill, and the Governor vetoed it, prompting our op-ed of May 23, 2009 in the Star Tribune, the most frequently read online commentary in the region that weekend. We continue to advance that vital proposal and partner with other groups seeking to renew our democracy.
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