Boston Globe: Helping people discover their power through civic education
How does a community like Homewood, Pennsylvania, address the lead in the soil that’s harming children or the proliferation of vacant lots? Khalif Ali, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, a nonpartisan organization that serves as a watchdog against corruption and voter suppression for Pennsylvanians, says it starts with creating civically oriented spaces where people can learn about the democratic process and unite with others experiencing the same struggles.
He came to understand this long ago: His drive for social change started when he was a community organizer at Operation Better Block in Homewood, where his job was to form a civic association. He said he realized “civic associations are really the building blocks of a strong democracy.”
“If you don’t talk to one another, you can’t begin to hold an elected official or a potential candidate accountable for those issues,” Ali says.