City Engagement Day 2019: Connecting Students, Education, and Community

Students sit around tables listening as a woman talks.
Students learn about Trinity Lutheran Congregation from Pastor Jane Buckley-Farlee before beginning their City Engagement Day project.

For over twenty-five years, students have started off their Augsburg education with City Engagement Day. City Engagement Day is the first step on a student’s civic engagement and experiential journey at Augsburg. Along with their professor and classmates from their first year seminar (“AugSem”), students go out into the community for the afternoon to complete projects at community organizations. Each AugSem has a disciplinary focus, and each City Engagement Day site is carefully selected to pair with the discipline of the AugSem. The afternoon serves as an introduction to the communities surrounding Augsburg and the city of Minneapolis more broadly, a key learning aspect for Augsburg students in their First Year Experience. For some students, City Engagement Day is a catalyst to seek out volunteer or internship opportunities with the organizations they visited! The City Engagement Day experience is an important step in student learning as they begin to recognize and articulate their role in multiple communities, and to demonstrate agency to create positive, informed, and meaningful change in the world.

The goals of City Engagement Day have stayed consistent over its long history. The aims of the day include:

  • Students will learn more about the communities and organizations around Augsburg, and practice getting around the city.
  • Students will encounter community engagement and experiential learning as core components of an Augsburg education.
  • Students will build relationships with peers and faculty through shared work.
  • Students will connect with an organization or community that relates to the focus of their course or discipline.

With the arrival of Augsburg’s largest ever incoming class this fall, a significant number of local organizations were engaged to partner with Augsburg for City Engagement Day. While some local organizations have partnered with Augsburg for City Engagement Day from the beginning twenty-five years ago–including The Cedar Cultural Center, Mixed Blood Theater, Brian Coyle Community Center, and Seward Montessori School–a variety of new partners were engaged to participate in City Engagement Day 2019, including Hook and Ladder Theater and Lounge, the VOA High School, House of Balls Gallery, Waite House Radio station, the Midtown Greenway Coalition, 826 MSP, and Interfaith Power and Light. 

Organizations who participated as partners in this year’s City Engagement Day reported on the positive impact of the students who came to their organizations. At the Hook and Ladder Theater and Lounge, music students helped clean up gardens, cleaned, painted, filled a dumpster with debris, and helped organize a storeroom. Education students moved thousands of pounds of sand into a new sandbox at Anew Dimension Childcare Center, while another, business-focused AugSem moved the entirety of the West Bank Business Association office to their new location in the Mixed Blood Theater space.

Another aspect of connecting students to the communities surrounding Augsburg was transportation for City Engagement Day. Out of this fall’s thirty-two AugSems, twenty-five were able to walk to the site of their afternoon engagement, while the remainder were able to take public transit, due in no small part to the newly accessible Auggie Pass, an all-you-can ride transit pass for Augsburg students. By walking or taking public transit, first year students began to see close-up what our community looks like and what is available in it.

Each year, Mary Laurel True, Community Engagement Director in the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, organizes City Engagement Day sites. True began City Engagement Day (then City Service Day) early during her 30-year tenure at Augsburg, and each year coordinates the event, carefully pairing AugSem classes with organizations and projects. Noting that the AugSems are paired with sites that are relevant to their disciplinary focus, True emphasized how impactful it has been over the years that students start getting involved right away to see how their potential field of study might be living out its mission in the city in creative and profound ways. 

Student reflections on their City Engagement Day experiences indicated that the day did, in fact, impact their understanding of the connection of an Augsburg education and their current and future change-making in the world. When asked about the most important thing they learned during City Engagement Day, students responded: 

“The way that Augsburg connects with its communities, and how we as students can help our local community.”

“The most important thing I learned was actually how important it is to be a part of your community. This is where I will be living, these are the environments and people I will be surrounded with for the next 4 years. So it’s very important not only to care about but to contribute to your communities…”

“I learned that not only did we help this community center, but I realized that just because we are a University within a community does not mean we are separate from the community. As we continue through the years at this University, we should always recognize and help out the community we are in.”

City Engagement Day may be completed for 2019, but its impact will continue to resonate with students as they enter into the fall semester and beyond. We can’t wait to see how the Class of 2023 will continue to engage with our communities through their time at Augsburg.

2018-2019 Year in Review

neighbors eating at garden partyThe Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship had a whirlwind 2018-2019 school year. From workshops and lectures to community-based collaboration, campus-wide initiatives, and hosting a national conference, in addition to our day-to-day programs like LEAD Fellows, Campus Kitchen, and Public Achievement, this past year was full to the brim. We are thankful for all of our partners and collaborators in this ever-changing and exciting work. As we look ahead to the new school year, we are proud to share some highlights from 2018-2019:

Democracy Augsburg:

During the fall of 2018, the Sabo Center hosted 18(!) workshops and teach-ins on topics ranging from community organizing basics to the opioid epidemic, democracy in South Africa, citizenship and community agency, and more. Sabo Center staff invited candidates from across the political spectrum to campus for tabling and outreach prior to the 2018 midterm elections, and significantly increased our center’s visibility with students, staff, and faculty.

Student Employment Pilot:

Led by Sabo Center Director Elaine Eschenbacher, the Sabo Center initiated a student employment pilot program that worked closely with supervisors and students to make on-campus student employment more meaningful and useful, both for departments employing student workers and for students in their own career preparation. Twenty students and their supervisors went through orientation, training, and structured reflection throughout the course of the school year, and a report on the results of the program are forthcoming.

Environmental Stewardship:

The intern team of three undergraduate students, one graduate student, and a MN GreenCorps member hosted several events throughout the school year exploring the intersections of equity and sustainability, including a “Sip-Sustain-Stories” discussion series and a “Sustainability is No Joke” storytelling event facilitated by RFTP. In collaboration with Campus Kitchen, students began work to set up a campus “Share Shop”–a space created by and for students to reduce consumption, mitigate student costs by providing access to things like tools, and creating a community space where students can take part in informal learning around sustainable practices and skills sharing. The Share Shop and Campus Cupboard (student-run food shelf) are excited to co-locate in the basement of the Old Science building in the fall of 2019.

Campus Kitchen:

Campus Kitchen saw the exciting addition of two new staff members, LaToya Taris-James and Natalie Jacobson. The Campus Kitchen student leadership team deepened the Campus Kitchen partnership with the Brian Coyle Community Center youth program, beginning weekly cooking sessions in the Augsburg Food Lab and in the Brian Coyle kitchen. Another highlight of the year was a garden party event featuring local food activist La Donna Redmond and storytelling facilitated by Mixed Blood Theater.

Place-Based Justice Network Summer Institute:

The Sabo Center was thrilled to host our colleagues in the Place-Based Justice Network for the network’s annual conference. Read more about the PBJN Summer Institute it the blog featuring highlights of the conference. 

Undoing White Body Supremacy Pilot Project:

In partnership with Augsburg’s Equity and Inclusion Initiatives, staff members at the Sabo Center are leading a pilot cohort of white faculty and staff learning to undo the ways white supremacy shows up in our bodies, not just in our minds. Selected applicants will meet and learn together throughout the 2019-2020 academic year. This is body-based racial justice work, informed by Somatic Experiencing®  and Interpersonal Neurobiology. You can read more about this exciting project on the Sabo Center Blog.

LEAD Fellows:

The 2018-2019 LEAD Fellows cohort had innovative programming, including a session about radical self-care, a vocation panel of recent graduates, and leadership styles exercises, including a town hall meeting simulation. New community partners hosting LEAD Fellows this year included OutFront MN and Inquilinxs Unidxs. And, best of all, we welcomed LaToya Taris-James, an amazing new staff member who brings a wealth of experience in youth and leadership development to supporting both the LEAD Fellows program and Campus Kitchen!

Interfaith @ Cedar Commons:

Once a month, Interfaith Scholars and community members meet together for food and interfaith conversations on a variety of topics. Topics for 2018-2019 included Wellness and Faith, Intersection of Culture and Religion, Religion as a Tool for Oppression and Liberation, and Interfaith Perspectives Post-Election.

Community-Based Learning:

Director of Community Engagement Mary Laurel True collaborates with faculty across the University to connect their classes to community organizations and projects. Some highlights from 2018-2019 included co-hosting a national conference on Cuba with faculty in the Spanish department, and bringing Spanish classes to the Mexican consulate in St. Paul to learn about their work with immigration and new immigrant communities in Minnesota. In collaboration with Religion department professors, students completed 12 visits to diverse places of worship (mosques, churches, synagogues, and temples), connecting their visits with study of interfaith topics.

 

Interested to join us for 2019-2020? Check out the Calendar and Events page, and be sure to like the Sabo Center of Facebook (@sabocenter) for all the latest on workshops, events, and ways to plug in!

Public Achievement Continues to Grow

During the week of January 9, 2019, National Organizer for Public Achievement, Dennis Donovan, worked with faculty, students, and staff at Colorado College. Eleven students were enrolled in the Youth Empowerment in the Neoliberal Age course that Dennis taught for a week. The students learned the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship co-creative politics framework and skill set. Dennis taught them Public Narrative, One-to-One Relational Meetings, Power Mapping, and the Public Achievement process. These students will now be Public Achievement coaches at Mitchell High School. Along with teaching this class, Dennis also worked with staff and students connected to the Collaborative for Community Engagement Center. Twenty-seven Colorado College students connected to this center are now coaching Public Achievement in three area schools. Colorado College has made significant progress in adding Public Achievement coaches and sites since January 2018. This year, Colorado College will be hosting the annual Colorado statewide Public Achievement coaches meeting on March 2, 2019. Colorado College students and staff will be joined by students and staff from the University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado State University, and Denver University.

 

Students stand in a group photo.
Eleven Colorado College students participated in a class taught by Dennis Donovan in January.

Facilitators

 

Harry BoyteHarry Boyte

Harry C. Boyte is a co-founder with Marie Ström of the Public Work Academy and Senior Scholar of Public Work Philosophy, both at Augsburg University. He also founded the international youth civic education initiative Public Achievement and the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the University of Minnesota, now merged into the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg University. Boyte’s forthcoming book, Awakening Democracy through Public Work, Vanderbilt University Press 2018, recounts lessons from more than 25 years of revitalizing the civic purposes of K-12, higher education, professions, and other settings. In the 1960s, Boyte was a Field Secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization headed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and subsequently was a community and labor organizer in the South. Boyte has authored ten other books on democracy, citizenship, and community organizing and his articles and essays have appeared in more than 150 publications including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Political Theory, Chronicle of Higher Education, Policy Review, Dissent, and the Nation

 

Elaine EschenbacherElaine Eschenbacher

Elaine Eschenbacher is a civic leadership educator with more than twenty years of experience. She currently directs the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg University which integrates rich histories of civic engagement, experiential education, and democracy-building in a vibrant center with local, regional, national, and international reach. Prior to joining Augsburg University in 2009, Eschenbacher served as associate director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship, at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Eschenbacher designs programs and delivers workshops on themes of civic agency, democratic and experiential education, community organizing, and public work locally and nationally so that people continually expand their capacity to shape their communities, futures, and worlds. She is a facilitator and trainer for the National Issues Forum model of deliberative dialogues and a regular facilitator democratic processes aimed at developing civic agency. She earned her master’s degree in leadership from Augsburg University, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, and teaches in the Leadership Studies program at Augsburg.

 

Dennis DonovanDennis Donovan

Dennis Donovan is the national organizer of Public Achievement at the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Along with Harry Boyte, Donovan was a key architect of Public Achievement, which is a theory-based practice of citizen organizing to do public work to improve the common good. Since 1997, Donovan has worked with K-12 schools, colleges, universities, and community groups locally, nationally and internationally as a speaker, trainer, consultant, and educator. Before joining the Center, Donovan worked in K-12 education for 24 years as a teacher and school principal. Under his leadership, Saint Bernard school in St. Paul won the St. Paul/ Minneapolis Archdiocesan Social Justice Award for work done to improve the North End community. Donovan was also a founder and education chair (1990 to 1997) of the St. Paul Ecumenical Alliance of Congregations (SPEAC). SPEAC has since grown into a statewide organization known as ISAIAH and is one of the most active partners in the national PICO organizing network. Donovan received the 2008 University of Minnesota Community Service Award. He earned a master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas and a bachelor’s of science degree in elementary education from the University of Minnesota.

The Concept and Philosophy of Public Work

The Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship has long utilized the concept of public work as an philosophy and approach to our work with individuals and communities. Public work is sustained, visible, serious effort by a diverse mix of ordinary people that creates things of lasting civic or public significance.

The ultimate goal of public work is a flourishing democratic culture, created through a different kind of politics in which citizens take center stage. We believe citizenship is best seen as work, whether paid or unpaid, that has public meaning, lasting public impact, and contributes to the commonwealth. Public work is different than citizenship as charity,  volunteerism, or protest politics. Instead, public work stresses the contribution of individuals in their everyday lives to shaping a common way of life together.

Public work teaches people to work across party lines and partisan differences. Diverse groups have come together to create parks, schools, and libraries, to organize civic holidays or movements for social reform. Institutions such as political parties, religious congregations, unions and commercial associations, settlements, cooperative extensions, schools, and colleges were once “mediating institutions” that connected everyday life to public affairs. They also taught an everyday politics of bargaining, negotiating, and problem solving. People learned to deal with others that they may disagree with on religion or ideology. They gained a sense of stake and ownership in democracy.

Such experiences of everyday political education and action have declined. Many institutions have become service delivery operations in which experts or professionals deliver the goods to clients or customers. Many forms of citizen politics have been reshaped as large-scale mobilizations, in which issues are cast in “good” or “evil” terms, and solutions are often vastly oversimplified. Public work politics aims to renew the civic muscle of mediating institutions and to teach the skills and habits of navigating many-sided public projects.

Public work is also a philosophy, a theoretical framework that draws upon diverse intellectual traditions and aims to have broad explanatory power about the craft of democratic action. Public work understand humans as creative agents, and emphasizes developing human talents, connecting people to each other and to society, and generating a sense of the world as open-ended and co-created by human beings. People are contributors, rather than victims, volunteers, or consumers. People are part of a relational public commons, in which our thriving is mutual and interconnected.

Public work is an evolving framework that speaks to the central challenges of our time. Public work dissolves the distinction between a separate government, a “them” responsible for our problems, and “the people,” innocent and aggrieved. Our government and our democratic way of life become what we make them, and are a reflection of ourselves.

Workshop Offerings

The Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship offers workshops and training sessions on topics related to civic, community, and political engagement for students, community members, staff, and faculty. See upcoming workshops on our events calendar.

 

Basics of Organizing: Public vs. Private, Power, and Self-Interest

Interested in learning about community organizing but don’t know where to start? This workshop is for you. Learn some of the foundational concepts of organizing to get started on your change making journey. Participants in this workshop will gain an understanding of relational power, the difference between public and private relationships, and how self-interest motivates us to act.

Deliberative Dialogue

According to research through the National Issues Forum, Americans are deeply worried that the social fabric may be unraveling due to polarization. A deliberative approach helps to address the problem of polarization. Deliberative practice promotes learning, listening, and understanding across lines of difference, and can lead to collective action. This experience-based training for moderating deliberative dialogues offers the opportunity for participants to engage in a deliberative dialogue, and to develop facilitation skills for moderating deliberative dialogues.

Democracy and the Philosophy of Public Work

In this dynamic workshop, participants will learn about the theory and practice of public work. Participants will leave being able to distinguish between three ways of conceptualizing democracy and what it means to be a citizen, and will understand civic agency and its role in public problem solving.

One-to-One Relational Meetings

If you want to create change, few things are more important as one-to-one relational meetings. One-to-ones are at the heart of community organizing and leadership. These conversations are about establishing a public relationship with someone, and sharing stories as a way to understand their motivations and self interests. They can uncover common values and interests that might lead to collaborative work in support of the change you are trying to create. This mix of personal, sometimes intimate knowledge leading to public action holds unique value. Participants in this workshop will learn and practice one-to-one relationship building for organizing and public work.

Orientation to Community-Based Learning

Through community-based learning, students engage with a local community or organization around co-created goals. These experiences do not take place in a vacuum and have potential for substantial impacts making it important to do thoughtful preparation. Participants will engage in reflection about the skills, capacities and lens they will be bringing to their work, reflection about their pre-existing knowledge and remaining questions about the community they’ll be working in, and learn helpful practices for navigating collaborative work in a new context.

Power Mapping

People interested in promoting positive social change— through public work, civic action, advocacy and other vehicles—need to be aware of who else cares about their cause, and the political and social power structures in play. Social change agents need tools to access resources and to put their ideas into action. Power mapping gives participants a way to think about different kinds of power, and a set of tools to access the power needed to make things happen.

Public Narrative

Using Marshall Ganz’s framework for storytelling as a catalyst for social change, participants in this workshop will learn about the power of the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now, and will begin to develop their own public narratives.

 

Join the Sabo Center for a One-to-One Relational Meetings Workshop

Blog post by Emily Braverman.

 

Do you want to learn significant tools for building bonds with others and making social change?

 

If you want to create change, few things are more important than one-to-one relational meetings. One-to-ones are when two people who intentionally engage in conversation to learn about one another, sharing personal knowledge and values to build a connection that will eventually create public action. These conversations are focused on establishing a public relationship with someone. By sharing stories, participants can understand one another’s motivations and self interests, and find commons areas for collaboration and action.

 

The Sabo Center is hosting two opportunities to learn about one-to-one meetings and to practice this important tool for relationship building, organizing, and public work. Come and join us!

 

Wednesday, October 24, 3:10-5:10 pm, OGC 100

Thursday, October 25, 3:40-5:40 pm, Marshall Room

Poster for One-to-One Relational meetings Workshop

What’s at Stake on the Sixth?

A Democracy Augsburg Teach-in

Blog post by Emily Braverman

 

The Midterm Elections.  Poster for What's at Stake on the Sixth? Event.

If you aren’t aware of what the midterm elections are, no worries! Here at the Sabo Center, we broke it down into an easily understandable, short guide:

U.S. presidents serve four-year terms. In between these terms, there is a midterm election. Participation during these elections tend to be lower than general elections, but they are very important!

During the midterm election:

  • Members of the U.S House of Representatives are up for election.
  • Most U.S. states elect their governors.

In addition, the political landscape may change because the president’s party may lose seats in both houses of Congress; this might change which party is in control of the legislature. This, in turn, will impact the president’s ability to pursue an agenda during the second half of his/her term.

Augsburg University’s Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship welcomes everyone to a presentation by political science professor Andrew Aoki, followed by a discussion about the midterm elections. This will take place on October 19th, at Oren Gateway Center – room 100, between 4:30-5:30 p.m.

The 2018 midterm elections will bring forward many important issues to discuss and vote on. Topics at “What’s at Stake on the Sixth?” might include:

  • Donald Trump’s presidency
  • Immigration
  • Healthcare
  • Marijuana
  • International Affairs

Let’s talk: consequences, redistricting, implications for control of Congress, the presidency, presidential-congressional relations, Supreme Court, and myriad public policies.

If you want to discuss these or other issues and to understand the importance of the midterm elections, we will see you at What’s at Stake on the Sixth.

Learn to Communicate Across the Political Divide with the Better Angels Workshop

A Democracy Augsburg Workshop

Blog post by Emily Braverman  Poster: Better Angels Workshop

“Political ideology” is a term used frequently by political activists, students, and generally by anyone who considers themselves a political enthusiast. What exactly does it mean? Simply put, it is a term describing a person’s political views.

As a myriad of recent examples from American politics display, when diverging political ideologies collide the result is not necessarily respectful or peaceful. Even some of the most qualified politicians have not mastered the skill of respectfully engaging in conversation with those who have a different political ideology.

In response to this challenging reality, The Sabo Center is partnering with Better Angels to offer a workshop where participants will learn effective ways to communicate with others who differ from them politically. Better Angels is a national citizens movement that aims to reduce political polarization in the United States by bringing together liberals and conservatives to understand each other beyond stereotypes, to form red/blue community alliances, to teach practical skills for communicating across political differences, and to make a strong public argument for depolarization.

Come join The Sabo Center for a fish bowl-style discussion in which an equal number of self-declared conservatives and progressives join together in conversation about their differences and how to embrace each other’s side:

Wednesday, October 17, 3:30pm – 5:30pm, Old Main Room 105.

 

Whose Democracy is it Anyway?

Join the Sabo Center and a panel of distinguished guests in exploring the questions: What role do citizens play in our democracy? What role do elected officials play? In a thriving democracy, how do (or should) the two interact?

October 4, 2018

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Hagfors Center, Room 150, Augsburg University

 

Panelists:

Catalina Morales, Lead organizer with ISAIAH and Faith in MN

Harry Boyte, Senior Scholar in Public Work Philosophy, Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship  

Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison, Minneapolis Ward 5

Irene Fernando, Candidate for Hennepin County Commissioner – District 2