Summer Civics Festival 2021: Celebrating Direct Democracy

Join Vote Nevada this summer for our Civics Festival! 

Let’s have some fun while addressing issues with civics. You can sign up for one or more of these activities by filling out the Google Form: Sign-up Form

1.  Civic action is for the birds!  Have you ever considered yourself an economic development expert? Now is the time to get some economic development experience on your resume.  Many people watch birds around the world to track climate change, get regular exercise, and celebrate nature in their own backyards.

We can create a sustainable economic development plan to make Nevada a must-see destination for bird watchers from around the world.  Making every neighborhood bird-friendly will bring natural landscaping opportunities to every home and making Nevada bird-friendly will make us more resilient against the ravages of climate change.

If you would like to become an economic development expert by making Nevada “for the birds,” sign up for this team.

2.  Redistricting will be here soon, so let’s have some fun while we learn how to use the redistricting software.  If you join the redistricting group, you’ll be assigned to a redistricting commission to actually draw congressional district maps. Each team will create a commission using the Fair Maps Nevada process and will be evaluated on: transparency, opportunities for public participation, and fairness of maps.

We are working with a team of Princeton students who will help us learn how to use Census data to draw congressional district maps to ensure we all receive fair representation.

You can learn more about redistricting here: Redistricting Resources

3.  Did your policy priorities fail to receive a hearing this legislative session? Well, let’s give it a hearing!  You can join a simulated legislative committee to hear sponsors explain their bills.  Through this process, we will most certainly find some good policy gems to work on over the interim.  You can learn more about legislative hearings here: Legislative Advocacy

If you have a bill that died you would like us to consider for our simulated legislative hearings & direct democracy processes, please add it or the policy idea, to our Google Sheet:

4.  Do you have an idea for a law? You can join this team to learn about ballot questions.  Nevada offers two types of democracy, representative and direct.  This team will focus on direct democracy. You can read more about initiatives and referendum here: Direct Democracy

Each participant will engage in the process of “running” a statutory ballot question from understanding how a ballot question is written, to gathering petition signatures, and then turning out the vote for your question.

5.  Every state manages elections just a bit differently, so if you join this team you will test drive different primary election models.  We have closed primaries, which we use to select each party’s candidates and even elect some candidates.  But other states have semi-open and open forms of primaries, so this is an opportunity to test drive a different primary model.  You can read about different types of primaries here: Primary Elections

6.  If you are still mulling over better ways to research judicial candidates when we have so many on the ballot, you can join this team.  We will look at different ways to research and review the courts and the judges.  Electing Judges

7.  Have you heard of Community Benefits Agreements? You definitely should know about these important agreements with private companies coming into the state.  If a company comes to Nevada and receives a tax abatement, what should the company do in return?  Hire Nevadans?  Which Nevadans? Join us as we look to improve these agreements. Community Benefits Agreement Toolkit

8.  Do you agree that we need more opportunities to development new ways of doing things?  Are you worried about government accountability?  This team will be for you.  The Good Governance and Accountability Committee will create blueprints for empowering community members to provide more recommendations for managing processes and current policies and to create grassroots mechanisms for holding elected and appointed officials accountable.

9.  How do I? Workshops

This last working group will host workshops to help every Nevadan have self-determination.  Three topics to start are:

How do I start a nonprofit?  How do I start a business?  How do I apply for a grant? 

10.  Oral History Project: We must know history to change the future

               A large pillar of the New Deal was providing Americans with jobs; not just blue-collar jobs, but also white and pink-collar jobs.  Consequently, the Works Project Administration spun off other offices, agencies, and programs to provide white-collar workers avenues for earning a paycheck.  One such program was the Federal Writers Project, which is well-known among historians for the Slave Narrative Collection.  FWP participants engage in oral history collection among African Americans who had experienced slavery and emancipation.  These narratives became invaluable primary sources for a part of history that was quickly sliding into oblivion.

               Nevada is facing a similar danger as many civil rights leaders are passing on without the opportunity to share their lived experiences.  While we may not have the federal funding tied to a program, such as the WPA of FWP, we now have technology that empowers us to do this work with non-financial resources.  But how is this related to civics?

               Civic engagement is a strategy for accomplishing outcomes related to civil rights and governing processes.  To know which outcomes to include requires a study of the past to know where we started, how we arrived where we are now, and where we need to go in the future.  History also reveals the tools and tactics for achieving success.  In sum, we cannot know where we need to go until we know where we have been and how the past produced the present.

               The first oral history project will be the Las Vegas Association of Black Educators, LVABSE.  LVABSE was instrumental in legal proceedings to demand Clark County come into compliance with federal desegregation laws and civil rights Supreme Court rulings.  This was a monumental achievement, yet most Nevadans have never heard of LVABSE.  We need to change that and put LVABSE into our historical narrative before we lose the long-term members.