There’s a gaping pothole on your street...

Every time you drive over it your car bottoms out, loudly scraping the pavement until one day your bumper falls off. What can you do? Wait for it to fix itself? Find a new way home?

Take action! Call city hall, write the newspaper, or post dozens of comments on your mayor’s Facebook posts with pictures of the crater-sized pothole ruining the cars in your neighborhood.

Believe it or not, you are now civically engaged. Almost everyone has their own definition of being civically engaged: paying taxes, voting, doing nice things for a neighbor, and volunteering. The definition the Common Project uses?

Individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern.

More than 200 years of American democracy have shown that civic engagement is required for individuals and communities to succeed. When the majority of individuals don’t engage, communities become splintered, community problems go unaddressed, and we all suffer.

This Common Project expands the way we view our communities and our place in them.

If you called your city hall, wrote your paper, and spammed your now frustrated mayor your pothole probably would be fixed and you’d be a local hero.

We all benefit from civic engagement, yet we’re taught to view it as an activity of pure selfless giving.

The Millennial generation (born between 1980-1999), is changing the tide of engagement. While we’ve been criticized as the “Generation of Me,” we are replacing obligations with questions of “How can I truly make a difference? Is it possible to make government more responsive to my communities’ needs?”

Yes, Millennials are focused our experiences, but we also are moving our society from the ideal of duty to the pragmatic approach of wanting 'do well by being good'.

Throughout this issue, the Common Project tackle these questions and many more: Is engagement only something money can buy? Who is left out? What can our system do to be more inclusive when it comes into contact with nontraditional individuals and ideas?