Before I spend the rest of the day (after a near-sleepless night catching up on work) celebrating my birthday with family (my 9-year-old wants to spend the day with me doing “whatever Daddy wants to do” — as long as it includes seeing the movie “Inside Out” followed by bowling — I thought I’d jot down here a few lines about the exciting partnerships shaping up around the Declaration Project and beyond. The other day I spent a glorious hour Skyping with the incomparable civic mover and shaker Andrew Slack, co-founder of the Harry Potter Alliance. I met Andrew at the latest gathering of the ‘Civic Collaboratory,’ founded by the extraordinarily accomplished and inspiring civic entrepreneur Eric Liu, who walks the walk each and every day, and among so many other meaningful endeavors brings together several times a year scores of kindred spirits in the world civic and social entrepreneurship.
After I gave a presentation about the Declaration Project at the Civic Collaboratory, Andrew stood up, the picture of excitement and enthusiasm, and made a wide-ranging number of commitments to collaborate and help make not only the Declaration Project, but our nonprofit Democracy Cafe, all it can be. In our first of what is sure to be many Skype and face to face encounters, Andrew provided so much savvy and sage guidance that I found myself wishing he was on our board in some capacity. But we have the next best thing, his unswerving commitment to help us really establish a sustainable organization that resonates far and wide. “My excitement level is so high for working together,” he told me. And I was thrilled by his characterization of our Declaration Project as “an online, living museum.”
Also on hand at the Civic Collaboratory gathering was Marci Harris, of the inimitable Popvox, who has already posted, on our nation’s real independence day, a great blog about our project launch. Many others stood up after my presentation to offer their help and support and proposals for collaborations, and I’m following up with each and every one — Brian Brady, exec. director of Mikva Challenge, wants to connect Declaration Project with their Project Soapbox and make it a tool for middle and high school students as well as add to their menu of actions for students (I’ll be speaking with a key member of his staff tomorrow about this); Mark Freedman, founder and CEO of encore.org, which works with groups creating rights of passage for adults into later stages of life, would like to encourage them to include their personal statements by incorporating the declaration aspects as they think about their lives; Dorothy Stoneman, founder and CEO of Youth Build USA, wants her opportunity youth members’ voice to participate by posting personal declarations in MyDeclaration; Michael Ostrolenk of the Liberty Coalition, a civil liberties organization, pledged to sign up and send out a message to his participating organizations to encourage their participation; and he will do a video interview with constitutional scholar Bruce Fein on the project; Zak Malamed, of Student Voice is working on a framework to improve schools with a Student Bill of Rights, and promised to encourage students to post their declaration on MyDeclaration as they implement their Bill of Rights in their schools; and Lynn Barendson, of Good Project and Family Dinner Project, would like to collaborate on a community dinner project.
So needless to say, I’m excited to the hilt that the Declaration Project and Democracy Cafe resonates with so many exemplary activists in the civic sphere, who are willing to lend so many important facets of support and to collaborate on a range of fronts. I’ll be sure to keep you posted. Onward and upward. But now, time to go celebrate my birthday. My oldest daughter has already made me a delicious quesadilla and dessert for breakfast, and now insists on taking me to the playground, where Cali and I and her two-year-old sister will play to our hearts’ content.