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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

“Participate in political process”

Anonymous
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Inequity in education”

Anonymous
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Respect each other”

Anonymous
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Rampant racial bias”

Anonymous
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Be part of the needed change”

Anonymous
Why is voting important to you?

“Willingness to work for community betterment”

Anonymous
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“I get to decide who decides for me”

Anonymous
Why is voting important to you?

“Team mentality”

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

“Voter suppression and intimidation”

Sharonda
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“If you don’t vote – decisions happen to you not with you”

Anonymous
Why is voting important to you?

“Climate of voter restriction”

Trenton citizens
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Educated in the history of our republic”

Gerald
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Proactive in making a positive difference”

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

“Good citizen? Educated citizen!”

Anonymous
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Uneducated voters”

Anonymous , 37
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Tell others to vote and learn about your issues!”

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

“make democracy happy”

Idannis
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Get a good education”

Anonymous
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“I was in 2nd grade and I was voting for the student council”

Adyant , 12
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“Technology has allowed for ‘group think/echo chamber’ environments to flourish.”

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

“To be as educated as much as you can”

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

“schools teach biased versions of American history”

Jose , 40
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Equal educational opportunity…Accessible healthcare…Freedom of speech…”

M , 59
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“A good citizen prioritizes our interconnectedness over individualism”

Larissa , 56
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

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.