Building a DMV Democracy Learning Community
In 2019, Learning Life, a Washington DC-based nonprofit lab devoted to innovating education, democracy and diplomacy, launched its Democracy Dinners in light of recent challenges facing politics in the US and abroad.  The Dinners are intended to connect the many thousands of people in metro DC / the DMV working in the democracy sector, broadly defined, across their specialty silos to discuss the challenges and possibilities for democracy at local to global levels.  Now, after more than 35 successful Dinners, and with a growing Dinners invitation list of 4,000+ DMV democracy sector professionals, Learning Life is convening stakeholders to take the next step in the development of a broader DMV DLC: a Democracy Learning Community in the DC metro region.  

Capital regions like the DMV are opportune places to develop regional DLCs because they are political decision-making centers, have lots of resources and people working on political issues at local to global levels, yet also deep inequalities in participation, and the ability to meet in-person as well as online to deepen a sense of community.  

Accordingly, starting in the DMV, Learning Life is looking to develop a replicable regional DLC model that helps strengthen democracy at local to global levels by (1) fostering communication, collaboration and learning across lines of social and political difference as well as professional specialties, (2) broadening participation to include more people from politically disenfranchised communities, and (3) deepening public connection and commitment to democracy.  To accomplish these goals, we envision a DMV DLC holding not only regular, Democracy Dinners, but also online and in-person collaboration conferences, speed networking events, skill-building workshops, democracy seminars, socials, markets, festivals, and more -- all free or low-cost. 

What do YOU think a vibrant DMV DLC should look like?  Combining your answers to this survey, plus interviews with metro DC stakeholders, and extensive reading in the professional and scholarly literature on democracy, Learning Life plans to issue a vision and action plan in January 2023 that can inform the next steps in the development of the DMV DLC.     

Thank you for helping by answering this survey!  

Paul Lachelier
Founder & Director  
Learning Life

P.S. For more of the thinking behind DLCs, see the following article democracy strategist Mike Morrow and I co-authored published in The Fulcrum, and republished elsewhere: 

P.P.S.  Want to stay connected?  Join Learning Life's broader DMV Democracy & Diplomacy Community to network, learn, collaborate, and support our work. Details here: 

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What is your first and last name? *
Do you live in DC, Maryland or Virginia? *
What democracy organization(s), local to global, are you affiliated with, either as a volunteer, contractor, or paid employee?
Please name 1-3 things (campaigns, forums, dialogues, trainings, festivals, contests, arts performances or installations, business events, etc.) already happening *in metro DC* to widen and deepen participation in democracy at local to global levels, or to foster collaboration across lines of difference?  
Please suggest 1-3 things (campaigns, forums, dialogues, trainings, festivals, contests, arts performances or installations, business events, etc.) that a vibrant DMV Democracy Learning Community SHOULD do.  The more specific the better.  Feel free to suggest ideas of your own, and/or things already being done elsewhere in the US or the wider world.  Note: For this question, you do not have to know anything about what is going on in the DMV.  
What democracy organization(s) *in the DC metro area* might be interested in co-creating a DMV DLC?
Any authors, articles, books, reports, videos or other material you suggest we look at to help inform the DMV DLC vision and action plan?  
For each of the following possible DMV DLC events, please indicate to what extent you're interested.  1 = least interested.  5 = most interested.  

Democracy Dinners 1: Online gatherings of 8-12 people to discuss the challenges and possibilities for democracy.
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Democracy Dinners 2: Online gatherings of 20-30 people featuring a panel of speakers followed by Q&A and discussion of specific topics, like media and civic engagement, empowering marginalized communities, economic democracy, and more.
Clear selection
Collaboration Conferences: Curated online or in-person meetings designed to cultivate partnerships between democracy organizations.  
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Speed Networking: Gatherings that allow interested individuals to briefly meet one-on-one and learn about 15-20 people working on varied or related democracy issues.
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Skill-Building Workshops: Meetings focused on learning and practicing specific civic skills, like online or field organizing, social media communications, coalition building, fundraising, and more.
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Democracy 101 Seminars: Short classes on democracy basics, like elections, lobbying, campaign finance, how bills become law, how DC government or Congress works, etc.
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Democracy Socials: Fun, casual, in-person events -- like barbecues, potlucks, happy hours, etc. -- that allow DMV DLC members to get to know each other informally.  
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Democracy Festival: Fun annual event for all ages, modeled on agricultural fairs, filled with games, arts performances, a mobile museum, food, and more, all focused creatively on making democracy engagement and learning fun.  
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Three more quick questions. 

Any individuals and organizations in the DMV area, or that knows the DMV area well, to whom/which we should send this survey?
What is an email address at which we can contact you if we have any questions?
If you live in metro DC, would you like to get email invitations to Learning Life's Democracy Dinners?  Learning Life organizes one virtual Dinner, typically composed of 12-20 metro DC democracy-concerned folks, via Zoom every three months to discuss broadly the challenges and opportunities for democracy at local to global levels, or to consider a specific democracy topic/question with a panel of speakers.    
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