To the Editor:
For some time now, we have become increasingly aware of how our democracy is gradually falling apart. Our government has become increasingly unable to pay attention to and solve the problems faced by all Americans. Research has been showing that government is paying increasingly less attention to the will of the people. As the democracy has been degrading, it became obvious to us that there has been too little effort put into ensuring that people in New Jersey, as well as the rest of America, have not been learning how to effectively use democracy in maintaining the quality of life in our communities. So, we have decided to begin to the work of building democracy in the communities closest to us by starting a website, democracybuilding.org, and organizing the Community/Democracy Building Project.
To get people involved in and thinking about our democracy, our first event is a writing contest, The Democracy Writing Challenge. The idea is to challenge children and adults to think about what democracy means to them in their everyday lives and how to use its power to better their lives and the lives with whom they share their community. We want people to think about how what they believe and do has a direct effect on the health of democracy, the successful use of their freedoms and the strength of their communities. All of this depends on a healthy democracy’s power to achieve important results for the people and their communities.
The Democracy Writing Challenge is composed of three questions. The question for the K to 5th grade elementary school children is: In the Pledge of Allegiance, what do the words “liberty and justice for all” mean to you and your family? To answer this question, elementary school children may use pictures and words or just words.
The Democracy Writing Challenge question for the 6th to 8th grade middle school students is: What does democracy mean to you in the way you live your day-to-day life? Middle school students must use words only.
The Democracy Writing Challenge question for 9th to 12th grade high school students is: With the impact that climate change is having on our society, how would you use democracy at the local level to solve the problems resulting from climate change? This question is also open to anybody who is beyond high school and feels compelled to think about democracy. Any adult responses will be judged apart from the high school contest entries.
Each entry must be on one side of a single sheet of 8×11.5-inch paper. The title, grade level, contact information and name must be on the back of the entry. Initials or first names can be used if parents want their children to remain anonymous. No children’s names will be announced publicly unless parents approve of the name release.
The first-place prize for the elementary entry is $100. For middle schoolers the first-place prize is $200 and for high school and adults the prize is $500. There will also be second, third and fourth place ribbons awarded.The prizes will be awarded on June 10, 2022 at a location that is yet to be decided. The location for ceremony will depend on the extent to which New Jersey is involved in the pandemic in June.
Writing must be submitted by Friday May 31, 2022
The writing will be displayed in the Hopewell Branch of the Mercer County Library which is located at 245 Pennington Titusville Rd, Pennington, NJ 08534. The entries at all levels will be on display from June 1 through June 6, 2022.
The people will do the judging. Judging will be accomplished by the people who view the contest entries when they are on display at the Hopewell Branch of the Mercer County Library. There will be forms available at the library. Visitors will write the number of the contest entries at each level they think are the best responses. Each completed judging form will then be placed in a box that is clearly labeled.
Children and others can submit their entries by sending them to Community/Democracy Building Project P.O. Box 496 Pennington, NJ 08534 or emailing them to Democracybuildingproject@gmail.org. If there are any questions or concerns, please send a message to this email address as well.
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