After the divisiveness and health emergencies of the last year, it seems we have been inundated with bad news and the media continues to feed us that diet. Are you looking for a place to learn about good community work, positive news stories, and celebrate those successes? I sure am and can tell you reviewing the nomination sent in for the Edward Lowry Memorial Award for Citizenship has rejuvenated my spirit. Despite the hardships of a pandemic and difficult divisions across communities and our country, these many nominees found ways to explore common ground and serve others. many have done it all their lives and probably know no other discipline! Please consider joining us on May 21st at 4 pm Pacific Time/7 pm Eastern Time to enjoy an Oscar’s style presentation that celebrates the top ten nominees and announces the winner for 2021. Find the registration link here.
I’m excited that our June membership drive is right around the corner. Watch the attached video to learn about the many benefits of FAV membership to include learning the inside baseball at FAV in quarterly membership updates, meeting our board members, awesome speakers, or participating in many of our programs for free! If you decide to sign up for monthly giving at $10/month or more, we’ll even ship you one of our coveted FAV T-shirts, Citizenship: Not a Spectator Sport! We always get inspired when we see someone wearing one on a zoom call or at one of our events! We even have a lady’s style after we received feedback from the ladies that they preferred that option. Learn more about our membership in the membership corner below, on our website, or by reaching out to us at [email protected] – we always love connecting with folks. Lastly, if you know someone who would be interested in our content, please refer them our way. Follow us on social media, subscribe on YouTube, or sign up for this free email to receive FAV updates, blog commentary from our awesome blog writer, and other good news stories!
Learn more about the benefits of being a member of FAV with this video from our membership coordinator Sydney Lantz:
FAV Dates – Mark Your Calendars
April 29 at 3pm PST/ 6pm EST – Quarterly Membership Update
May 21 at 4pm PST/ 7pm EST – inaugural Edward Lowry Memorial Award for Citizenship (Register here)
June 1 through July 4th – FAV Annual Membership drive
Reprinted with permission from Chris Duncan. This article originally was printed in San Clemente Times, (March 4, 2021).
Our natural instinct in these times is to find like-minded souls to take us in, assuage our self-doubt, and tell us the “other side” is the source of our inner turmoil.
In coffee meetings, YouTube chats, and Facebook groups, the urge is strong to sort ourselves into competing factions, all bent on protecting “us” from “them” by denigrating those who see things differently.
Fear and frustration manifest as grievance against a mythical “they” who have gained from our side’s loss. Like a drowning swimmer off Lost Winds, we pull each other under to save ourselves.
This animosity, while comforting in the short run, is not the answer. We San Clemente residents will not, and should not, agree on everything. Vigorous debate results in a better functioning democracy, because the best ideas will withstand the toughest scrutiny.
But while we may disagree with our fellow citizens on the issues, we must not assign them evil intent. That is easier said than done, especially right now. National news outlets and social media companies, which profit off our divisions, tell us the stories we want to hear, not those we need to hear, and relentlessly demonize the “opposition.”
Your neighbor is not your enemy, but it is easy to believe he or she is. I know, because I am as susceptible to making rash personal judgments as the next person. It feels soothing for an instant to vilify someone who thinks differently, or worse, label them a bad person. But personal attacks only make us feel more bitter and alone, and in the long run, corrode our public discourse.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Each of us is responsible for changing the narrative. Our future generations are counting on us to make decisions today that will enhance our city’s prospects, not drive a wedge through it.
If we acknowledge that our own insecurities are often the source of our unease, we can avoid trying to find faults in others to make ourselves feel better. Through this acceptance, we can lift the invisible walls that separate us and come together to achieve the goals we share.
I believe we are in a unique position to make this happen. As tragic as COVID-19 has been, it has forced us to unify around beneficial practices we previously overlooked, like dining outdoors, enjoying our beautiful environment, and being more present for our kids.
As we emerge together from the pandemic, having defeated the virus and preserved our way of life through our collective diligence and mutual goodwill, we have an unprecedented opportunity to leverage this unity to tackle other challenges that seemed out of reach.
Stopping the toll road, saving our beaches, ending homelessness in town. These are all possible if we direct our energy toward solving the problem instead of endlessly critiquing fellow problem-solvers.
But this opportunity is fleeting. If we do not act now, it will pass us by. And a year from now, when things are back to normal, we may forget what is possible if we act in unison.
San Clemente is an extraordinary town, but I am convinced our best days are ahead of us. It is up to each and every one of us, including the five us on the city council, to release the baggage of contempt and blame, appeal to the better angels of our nature, and replace character smears with substantive, fact-driven discussion. Only then will our Spanish Village reach its full potential.
Chris Duncan is a San Clemente city councilmember who was elected in 2020.
In honor of Black History Month, I thought it would be appropriate for FAV to emphasize the impact of African American leaders. They represent one third of our Board of Directors, Advisory Council members, Symposium speakers and many of our audiences. FAV strives for diversity in all of its aspects and mirrors our country’s founding motto, E Pluribus Unum, “out of many, one.” To quote Alan Inman on our board of directors, “People need to see themselves in the picture.” Thus, we work hard to ensure that African Americans lead our organization, speak during our programs, and feel welcome at FAV hosted events. We value the struggles and sacrifices made by the African American community in the United States and lock arms with our brothers and sisters to strive for the aspirational goals in our founding documents, that all men (and women) are created equal.
We have a lot going on this month! Don’t wait until March 1st to nominate a community leader for the Lowry Award. Learn more at our website quicklink and inspire others to live up to the values of selfless community service, being willing to work across partisan divides, encouraging volunteerism, and other leadership traits. Learn more by watch this short Lowry Award video or going to our website.
Last month, we congratulated our amazing volunteers during our annual Volunteer Recognition Ceremony. Congratulations to Tyler Boden, Volunteer of the Year, Aaron Johnson, Runner-up, and Kelly Kehoe, Honorable Mention. These amazing volunteers selflessly contributed hours and hours to ensuring that FAV content & programming delivered the same high quality you have come to expect. They represent the dozens of volunteers who helped make our programs, Symposium, and campaigns successful during the year. We couldn’t do it without them and greatly value their contributions. Read more from this San Clemente Times story.
Subscribe to FAV YouTube channel
Have you enjoyed watching some of our programs on video? Maybe you wanted to attend our recent Digital Detox program, but the timing didn’t work? Check out the FAV YouTube channel and hit subscribe to stay up-to-date on all of our programs. Every fifth (public) subscriber gets a free FAV T-shirt! (Hint: get four of your family or friends to subscribe and guarantee you get a free T-shirt!) Don’t forget to click the thumbs up icon if you like any of our videos.
Have you recently joined FAV as a member? Don’t forget all of the great benefits of membership: free attendance at coffee talks and workshops throughout the year, discounted attendance during the annual Symposium, quarterly member updates where you learn about new FAV programs, recognition, and get to ask questions, and much more. Sustaining members ($500 and up) get VIP passes during the Symposium in addition to learning about the impact of their donations, allowing us to produce products like the recent white paper on polarization in the U.S. Learn more at https://firstamendmentvoice.org/join/
FAV bids farewell to Alyx Wells, our membership coordinator. Many of you may have spoken to Alyx on the phone about your membership benefits or upcoming programming. She moves on to a sister nonprofit and will benefit them in amazing ways! We are equally excited to welcome Sydney Lantz. Sydney joins to enhance member benefits and value. Look to hear from her around the time your member renewal is due or to learn about new programming. Reach out at [email protected] to ask her a question.
The 20th anniversary of religious freedom in faith-based and government partnerships, an essential cornerstone to advancing religious freedom for BOTH religious organizations and individuals receiving social services funded by the government. If you are interested in running it on First Amendment Voice, let me know: https://irfalliance.org/happy-20th-birthday-to-the-faith-based-initiative/
We at FAV are pleased to announce that we will be awarding the Ed Lowry Memorial Award for Citizenship starting this year.
Honor the life and legacy of Edward D. Lowry by recognizing outstanding civic engagement and encouraging citizens to serve others and engage on issues of importance in their communities.
Relentless service to others
Able to work across ideological differences for the common good
Fearless advocate of the First Amendment and its champions
Overcomes setbacks; strives on in the face of adversity
Exhibits strategic thinking but able to translate that into results
Inspirational: encourages others to give of time, talent or resources
Consummate networking to connect organizations & people for community impact
SubmissionsDeadline: March 1st, 2021
Format: email [email protected] one page writeup on why the nominee best exemplifies the qualities above. Submissions will be considered for award and recognition during the annual Symposium. Self-nominations are not encouraged. We will consider nominations that best emulate the life and legacy of Ed Lowry whose tireless work benefited countless individuals and organizations within his community.
Nominators should provide their name, relationship to the nominee & contact information
Restrictions: FAV board and staff not eligible.
March 2020 – award announcement
1 March 2021 – nomination deadline
15 March 2021 – nomination committee selects top candidates
15 April 2021 – FAV announces 2021 Lowry Award Recipient
On this day, I reflected about the struggles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights advocates decades ago, realizing how much we have yet to achieve. I recall how even in combat in Iraq, we took time to pause on this day, considering the legacy and our own role furthering it. We compared the sectarian tension in Baghdad and other cities to the racial strife in our own country. Dr. King’s struggle was not just an African American struggle, but one on behalf of all Americans and many others around the world. He helped us inch forward toward the aspirations in our founding documents. I hope that you had time to reflect on the relevance of that struggle, 50 some odd years ago, to our contemporary challenges.
Keep inspiring each other and holding out a hand to your neighbors. During the health and economic crises, turning our attention to others not only brightens their day but brings health benefits to those in service. How appropriate that this day is designated a national day of service. Thank you for being a part of our community and inspiring us to continue on in the march to live up to the ideals of public service and civility.
In honor of Dr. King’s birthday, we take you back a couple of years ago in Philadelphia when we reflected on why our individual voices matter to the contemporary struggles in our country. The speakers represent different generations, ethnicities and perspective, but they all encourage us to live up the FAV motto that “Citizenship is not a Spectator sport.” Enjoy!
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or Abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”