Letter: What is a Democracy Festival and Why is it Needed?

June 9, 2023

There is no question that democracy is under attack in America and in countries around the world. We see it in Ukraine. We saw it in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the capitol. We see it in the efforts of many states to restrict voting rights, to ban books, to attack LGBTQ and women’s rights; and we see similar behavior in the Supreme Court and the U.S. House of Representatives. We can not sit back and let those who are opposed to democracy take over our government. So what can we do? Here’s one idea.

First Parish in Concord recently hosted a Democracy Festival of two events on consecutive days to raise awareness of the issues we are facing and promote civic engagement and discussion. 

The first was a panel discussion titled “Democracy: Its Value and for Whom?” with four excellent speakers: 

  • Danielle Allen, Harvard professor and founder of Partners in Democracy
  • Irena Koval, Ukrainian playwright, novelist and essayist
  • Shanique Spaulding, Executive Director,  MA Voter Table  
  • Jim Tull, expert in international conflict management

A video of this well attended and much appreciated event is available at: https://youtu.be/pYWdib-p3Fw.

The second was a non-partisan democracy focused event, similar to a fair.

Twenty-seven different social justice groups participated in the event. The church buildings were alive with conversation – people engaging with one another.  

That’s what civic engagement is all about.
It’s time for Americans to come together to block this anti-democracy faction and protect our freedoms. We need to see each other in person, to talk with one another, to learn, and to find out how we can help.

That’s why we need Democracy Festivals and other events and actions that bring us together and increase civic engagement. 

Fred Van Deusen

Oxbow Road