International Clash Day: Spotlight on Citizen University

Community Engagement, International Clash Day

Because The Clash was anti-racist, anti-fear, pro-solidarity, pro-unity, pro-inclusion, KEXP is taking time to spotlight local social-justice organizations making a difference in our community. This is a public service announcement with GUITARS.

recorded and edited by Emily Harrop and Matt Schmidt

Citizen University is a Seattle-based organization committed to encouraging civic literacy, engagement, and activation. We talked to Ben Phillips, Senior Program Manager for Citizen University, to learn more about CU's mission, their unique approach to community building, and how people can get involved locally. 

Ben Phillips: My name's Ben Phillips I'm the senior program manager at Citizen University and I run several of our programs, including the joy of voting and our Youth Power Program and our show on Citizen University TV and a range of other stuff. 

KEXP: What does Citizen University do? 

BP: We promote and teach the art of powerful citizenship. When we say citizen, I think it's important to say – especially in this moment of dreamers and DACA – we don't mean the legal status or documentation that people have. We mean people who were active contributing members of their community. And so we're teaching active citizenship. And, for us, that means a combination of power and of character. And that when you have knowledge of civic power, of how stuff operates and how you can insert yourself into it and a sense of civic character of how to be in the collective, then you're a great citizen. So that's what we teach. 

KEXP: And how can people get involved and help?

BP: Well, here in Seattle we have an event that we do called Civic Saturday that is what we describe as a "civic analogue to church." So, it's not a faith gathering it's not church or synagogue or mosque but it's an opportunity for people to come together. There's song, there's reflection, meet your neighbors. There's a civic sermon. And it's really a chance to reflect, challenge yourself and others, get to know people and have kind of a space for fellowship. And we do those events here in Seattle regularly as well as now around the country. 

KEXP: And people can go to our website to learn more about that and other programs that we run as well. 

KEXP is celebrating International Clash Day on Wednesday, February 7th, both online and on the air; click here to see more KEXP interviews and articles.

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