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New Jerseyans share their stories and ideas about our democracy.

New Jersey's Democracy Conversation

In spring 2022, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities collected hundreds of responses from individuals throughout the state as part of our Democracy Conversation Project. Via both an online form and "ballot boxes" located at partner sites throughout the state, New Jerseyans provided their thoughts in response to four questions about our democracy:

  • What are the main challenges facing democracy today?
  • What do you remember about the first time you voted?
  • What does it mean to be a good citizen?
  • Why is voting important to you?

Responses were accepted in written, audio, video, and visual formats. They were compiled and displayed in interactive format on this page, below. Responses can be filtered by age of the respondent (when provided), as well as keyword tag, question prompt, and response type.

Visualizing Democracy Commissions

In summer 2023, NJCH announced the commissions of two projects aiming to explore, analyze, and visualize the responses in new and interactive ways. Commissions were awarded in response to a call for proposals.

What does it mean to be a good citizen?

The first project, above, is a brief animated video exploring the themes found in responses to the question "What does it mean to be a good citizen?" The video was created by filmmaker April Merl of South Orange.

The Misinformation Newspaper

Misinformation Newspaper

The second project, above, is a digital newspaper expounding on DCP responses related to misinformation as a challenge to democracy. It was created by artist and educator Melody Marshall of Woodbury.

All Responses

Filters

“Aware of issues that impact their community”

Anonymous
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Team mentality”

Christine and Asala
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Involved in elections”

Ave
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Educated in the history of our republic”

Gerald
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Knowledgeable of the consequences of their action”

Trenton citizens
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Respect and appreciate diversity”

Trenton citizens
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Being welcoming to those joining their community”

Kalista , 18
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Participating in your civic responsibilities”

Anonymous , 18
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Makes a meaningful contribution to society”

Anonymous , 18
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Be responsible for your own actions”

Bryan , 37
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Afterwards, I felt a sense of pride and liberation”

Lena , 24
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“Making sure all have a place at the table”

Michael , 46
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Don’t sit on the sidelines”

Anonymous
Why is voting important to you?

“Participating in elections”

Ariv , 8
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“It’s a sermon because we are talking about how we believe”

Michael , 77
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“We need engaged, participatory democracy year round”

Aaron , 30
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Be informed – engage – vote”

Portia , 67
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Civic engagement”

Anonymous
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Your actions benefit those around you”

Shane , 18
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Pays attention and participates”

Anonymous
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“To contribute towards the whole”

Yesin , 20
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Actively participate”

Samriddhi , 18
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Getting involved in one’s community”

Swathi , 18
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Always involved in their community”

Amy , 18
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Holding people accountable”

Sharika , 17
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Not putting ego to the side”

Gabrielle , 18
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Have some compassion and empathy!”

Tara , 47
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“I felt so grown up”

Renee , 50
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“cynicism”

S. , 35
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“a commitment to serve the greater good”

Leslie
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“committed to public service”

Ariel , 38
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“do service”

Maria , 51
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“active participant”

Anonymous
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“contribute to the fabric of democracy”

Claire , 60
Why is voting important to you?

“actively engage”

Ben , 38
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“we all have responsibility”

Barbara , 88
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“focus on important issues”

Roxanne , 70
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“to help”

Anonymous
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“follow the rules”

Lavanya , 33
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“We are increasingly living in a gerontocracy”

Carlos , 20
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

At NJCH, we believe that everyone should have access to humanities programming. Based on your organization and desired topics/formats, we offer programs—often subsidized by our federal and corporate funding—so that you can bring high quality humanities programs to your audiences.