Learning Citizenship

The University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Inquirer have been sponsoring a series of neighborhood forums as part of their Great Expectations initiative, which seeks no less than to overcome Philadelphia's inferiority complex and push it into the pantheon of great cities.  Coming off the National Constitution Center's recent announcement that former president George HW Bush will be its new chairman, this is a great time to showcase Philadelphia's storied role in American democracy and citizen participation.

So of course when I found out that one of the neighborhood forums was being hosted by The Enterprise Center, where I worked for ten years and where I am now on the board, I just had to go.  And I had to bring my two-year-old daughter, to get her immersed in civic pride at an early age. 

Now, the forum's intimate feel precluded me staying too long; my daughter is way too young to sit still and quiet in the back for too long, despite the considerable and considerate efforts of the forum staff who brought paper and markers for her to play with.  Still, I got a lot out of the fifteen or so minutes I was there: a project overview from the forum's moderator, some handouts about future related events, and an update from a colleague of mine on how this year's City Council election is going to play out. 

I ducked out at a break in the action and apologized to the forum moderator for my daughter's chattering in the bac.  To which he replied, "that's what this forum is all about - chattering!"  And then he encouraged me to keep exposing my daughter to these kinds of civic events.  I certainly will.

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