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CitizenFest Memphis learning summit ready for debut

The Fourteenth Amendment establishes citizenship and lays out what it means to be a U.S. citizen. But it doesn’t explain how citizens can use their voices to actively participate in government.

That’s what CitizenFEST Memphis is for.

The Fourth Bluff and Citizen University are partnering to host CitizenFEST Memphis, a learning summit to teach individuals ways to exercise their civic power. CitizenFEST is free, and will be held at Harbor Landing on Mud Island on Oct. 13 (Saturday) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“The goal of CitizenFEST is to provide participants with tools, connections, and inspiration for the work of active citizenship,” said Ben Phillips, senior program manager at Citizen University. “And we want to do so in a way that is grounded in place, action-oriented and joyful.”

CitizenFEST, which was launched earlier this year, will include performances, workshops, lunch, and a keynote by Eric Liu, CEO and founder of Citizen University, a nonprofit. Started in Seattle, Citizen University has since expanded its footprint and now teaches people in different cities about powerful citizenship.

Phillips said that partnerships with local organizations such as the Fourth Bluff are key.

“We put out an open call asking who wanted to partner with us on these events, and leaders here in Memphis raised their hand,” Phillips said. “We also have been intentional in coming to parts of the country we haven’t been before, and engaging communities who are at crossroads of change, navigating this moment of change in America.”

The event combines information about local efforts to organize, along with sharing information that Citizen University has learned in other communities.

“That combination of local and national is what’s so special about CitizenFEST,” Phillips said. “It’s about combining skills and powerful ideas with concrete opportunities to get involved on the ground. And it’s about connecting folks who are active in their community with others they might not know yet.”

Everyone is invited to come to the summit regardless of his or her current involvement in the community. This is an event designed to promote community involvement and teach everyone different ways on how he or she can help change the city, Phillips said.

“The idea at the heart of the event is that citizenship isn’t about documentation status,” Phillips said. “It’s about a larger definition of citizenship – showing up in your community, participating actively, and doing so in a way that lifts up your community.

“In short, it’s about building power and cultivating character.”

(Register on Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/citizenfest-memphis-tn-tickets-49189456990.)

CitizenFEST is designed to provide participants with tools, connections and inspiration for the work of active citizenship in a way that is grounded in place, action-oriented and joyful. (Courtesy photo)

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