Insights from the wetlands

Nature’s wetlands may look placid, but they are teeming with life. Important work is going on in them; harmful substances are being filtered out, birth and regeneration are everywhere. The same is true of the political wetlands. In them, people practice a politics that is quite different from institutional politics—different in objectives, organization, and methods. The wetlands analogy calls attention to the extraordinary potential in what appears commonplace and unexceptional—the everyday opportunities for people to shape their future. At its best, this citizen politics is focused on the well-being of communities as a whole and their capacity to overcome adversity—their resilience. This politics involves more than volunteering. It goes deeper than voting, obeying laws, and paying taxes. It includes but goes beyond serving on advisory bodies and participating in government hearings. It is a politics where citizens don’t just comply or advise; they act.

Below, others share insights about how to work in ways that encourage a robust citizen politics.