Civic: relating to the duties or activities of people in relation to their town, city, or local area.
It’s like history: people think of history as these broad narratives usually of, by, and for white men. Digression. Back in March 2018, the Hoover Institution (on War, Revolution, and Peace) sponsored a conference on “Applied History.” Thirty male historians, one female historian, ALL white, ALL associated with American institutions. Not having been there, I couldn’t tell you what “Applied History” actually means; my knee-jerk reaction is to wonder whether anyone talked about the use and misuse of history by policymakers, or whether this was just a bunch of white Americans telling policymakers what they should be doing on a national and international basis.
What do people mean by civic?
Yesterday, a very young and lost boxer followed me for a mile. I went back to my Airbnb and not knowing what to do, asked my host to help me. She cut me off: “The dog needs to go back on the street, he can’t be here, and I can’t help you.” After the initial panic, I realized that I can in fact take care of the problem. I called the local no-kill shelter, they referred me to Animal Control, and I sat with the dog until the officer showed up thirty minutes later. He assured me the dog would be scanned for microchip information, held for 24 hours to wait for owner, then taken to the no-kill shelter. Today, I have a “civic” survey in my inbox, asking me what I think civic means. Based on the choices on page one, civic would seem to mean citizen action of the obvious sort recognizable by the general public: voting, demonstrating, petitioning. Yesterday, DH and some neighbors sent out postcards to registered voters encouraging them to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. Yesterday, I rescued a friendly young dog with no common sense. Yesterday, I found out my Airbnb host, who has a full life as a feminist/Democrat/community activist, did not see my action as a civic one.
I must admit that I was tempted to ignore the dog . . . but he was so obviously lost and clueless. A couple of local neighbors helped figure out that the dog belongs to a family not far from where I am staying, his name is Bruno, and he is quite young (about 5 months old). I am hopeful his family picked him up from Animal Control last night.
On my last morning in Santa Fe, I found this heart hanging on a fence outside a Canyon Road art gallery. I am indeed grateful that I am lucky enough to live in a country where civic action — or inaction — is (still) a choice and a right.