Civic Saturday gatherings are an antidote to the isolation and despair so many of us are feeling these days. They help us remember that civic participation doesn’t need to feel like a slog. It can be enriching, connective, and purposeful!

Around the country, Civic Saturday Fellows are embedding these gatherings into the fabric of their communities. They’re creating a culture in their cities where getting involved and deepening relationships with neighbors is increasingly possible, meaningful, and even joyful.

Here are a few examples of Fellows who are bringing a spirited approach to gathering in their communities…

A group of people chatting together

Civic matchmaking in Akron, Ohio

A portrait of Kate Tucker smiling.

When Kate Tucker moved back to Akron, Ohio, she built her garden in her front yard so she’d have a reason to bump into neighbors walking by. What started as quick greetings turned into cocktail hour on her front porch. “People are looking for ways and reasons to gather locally — like very, very locally,” Kate shared with us.

As a musician, Kate knows the power of a crowd — of being part of a group and sharing an experience together. That’s why she decided to use the Civic Saturday model of gathering and to invite her whole city to experience that front porch feeling. She and her neighbors organized a morning dedicated to forging connections, reflecting on their vision for the future of their town, and singing together. (Want a taste? Read Kate’s welcoming remarks — and if you’re in the area sign up for their newsletter.)

A group of people chatting together

A big part of the day was something Kate is calling civic matchmaking. “I had been thinking about asset-based community development,” she said. “There are untapped resources in the community that people aren’t aware of. I wanted to create the space for those resources — and the people who need the resources — to match up.” She invited community organizations that needed volunteers or support for their work to join the Civic Saturday gathering, such as a group taking donations for their bike repair clinic. With over 100 people in the room, there was a palpable energy as new relationships blossomed and a spirit of service circulated far and wide. One attendee said, “I didn’t just meet my neighbors, I connected with them. I got their numbers. We made plans.”

These Akron neighbors are building a new kind of culture in their town, and it’s one that our country really needs — a culture of desiring to connect with strangers and of giving your gifts to benefit your community. And they’re doing it with spirit and care! “It was so joyful and lovely,” Kate said. “It was like a party!”

Ready to bring Civic Saturdays to your community? Apply to the Civic Saturday Fellowship → 

Artists joining in civic celebration in New York City

A portrait of Mariana and Roshni smiling.Mariana Brazão and Roshni Lavelle are perfect teammates. They both work at the Lincoln Center, an arts organization in New York City and work on civic programming for the city. This year, their summer festival blends the arts with the theme of “Life, Liberty, and Happiness” to highlight how active participation in the arts helps strengthen civic bonds and grow strong communities.

Mariana and Roshni saw how Civic Saturday gatherings could be a great fit for the festival, so they joined the Civic Saturday Fellowship as a duo with support from the Lincoln Center. Roshni shared that, “there is something so magical about having a shared lexicon and shared accountability. What was so beneficial about doing this together was the ability to integrate that so naturally into already existing workflows around how we build our summer programs.” Mariana added, “Roshni is so deeply rooted in the New York community, it’s been just so beautiful to watch her connect with artists.”

A graphic with the text, Summer for the City Their Civic Speakeasies, featured as part of their broader Civic Saturdays series, are part of the Lincoln Center’s third annual Summer for the City, bringing together thousands of artists in celebration of the multitude of stories that live within our city. These Civic Speakeasies are dedicated to celebrating the intersection of art and democracy, embracing shared values, and building joyful communal civic traditions through music, poetry, keynote speeches, and reflection. It’s a space for the community to embrace the values and practices of being an active citizen through artistic practice and experiences.

“The beauty of this,” they shared, “is going to be in the lineup of people who necessarily haven’t been together, but are going to come together in this moment to create something so beautiful.”

A group of people smiling and standing together on a stage

Many generations making a more vibrant Stonecrest, Georgia

A portrait of Dana and Malaika smiling.“As people began to enter my home, I greeted them with a resounding “Hey y’all” accompanied with a great big smile, a hug or handshake.” Dana Holmes knows how to make people feel at home. Strangers who stepped into the living room soon were eating and getting to know one another — even if there was an air of nervousness or distance. Dana and her friend Malaika Wells were hosting their first Civic Saturday gathering as Fellows in Stonecrest, Georgia, with their theme of Moving Forward, Together.

“I asked a local resident in our city to present an original art piece centered around the theme,” Dana shared. “He stood before the crowd and explained his art work and the inspiration behind it. Following his presentation, I had my son recite a civic poem titled, Community. He was nervous but he got through it. Before he could dart from the front to go find his friends, I gave a kiss on the cheek and told him I was proud.”

A group of people sitting on the couch at home

As Dana and Malaika have continued hosting gatherings, kids have been important members of the group. At one gathering with the theme of Good Neighboring, a four year old drew a picture of what their ideal community looked like. They invited many methods of sharing, through the creation of a shared narrative, shared piece of art, and dialogue. They know that to create a flourishing community, we must come together not only to address common challenges but to celebrate what makes us unique and vibrant.

Ready to bring Civic Saturdays to your community? Apply to the Civic Saturday Fellowship →