Earlier this year, CivicSource ran a feature promoting Looking@Democracy’s national contest calling for creative media pieces that explore ways we can strengthen American democracy. The winners were announced in June, and the submissions—varied in their calls to action, creative in artistic scope and production, and inspiring in their expressive stories of engagement—are worthy of some extra attention in their already national publicity.
A recent high school graduate won First Place for her emotive rap music video with rhymes dancing between her frustration with the way government currently works to her hope for what engaged American voices can make government become. Second Place went to a photojournalism student who personifies democracy and asks citizens to engage with it through inquiry and conversation, and Third Place was handed to a video documenting participatory budgeting and how this municipal process empowers citizens to collectively resolve community challenges by making real decisions over real money. In addition, special recognition for an emerging artist was awarded to a student reporting on news bias in the local and national coverage of the oft-spotlighted violent Englewood neighborhood in Chicago. And finally, a digital letter to Congress seeking investments in programs that matter to youth won the People’s Choice Award.
All of these media pieces provide a fresh look at what American democracy means and reimagines our unique individual and collective roles in shaping the public agenda , solving problems, and, most importantly, strengthening our democracy so that it not only hears, but also listens, to the diverse sway of voices that defines our nation’s citizenry. Watch the award-winning videos, check out the other great submissions that didn’t make the cut, and share your thoughts with us on your favorites via Facebook and Twitter: @UIC_CivicSource.