As an organization that brings people together, bridging boundaries and engaging our whole community to create positive change, we were shocked and saddened by the images that came to us from Washington, DC, on Wednesday. Watching a violent mob overrunning the Capitol,  recognizing the contrasts in how these protestors were treated compared to those calling for racial justice in the summer, seeing the violation of two of our nation’s most important institutions: fair and free elections and the peaceful transfer of power—all were ugly reminders of the deep divisions and systemic racism in our country.  This is not the nation we want to be. 

How do we pull back from this brink? At Vital Communities, we are reminded of our founding by members of the Upper Valley League of Women Voters. Nationally and locally, the League strives to involve people in the electoral process, especially the disenfranchised. We value the work done by the League, Fairfight in Georgia, and others to make the electoral process more truly democratic. 

The local League members who founded Vital Communities in the early 1990s believed it wasn’t enough to increase people’s access to voting; voters needed to be informed about important issues and understand the region as a whole. They saw the need for conversations and problem-solving among people from a spectrum of experiences, identities, and political outlooks. 

Nearly three decades later, that sort of deep, civil, inclusive conversation remains one of our guiding ideals. We believe this kind of community interaction can be, in its way, an antidote to the cynicism, misinformation, divisive rhetoric, and racism that is harming our nation. This week’s events at the U.S. Capitol were a stark reminder of the work that remains to be done. We’re hopeful that others will join us as we work to bring people together and build true community. 

The Vital Communities Staff