As technology has advanced in the United States and abroad, things that seemed unimaginable in the not-too-distant past have become commonplace. Just consider how travel has changed in the history of our country or the functions that smart phones provide. These technological advances have created a world in which individuals, businesses, countries, and continents are now connected constantly. Why not use those connections for good? Specifically, you can uphold the democratic value of popular sovereignty by cultivating the democratic virtue of responsibility, especially for civic engagement.

In Building a Global Civic Culture, sociologist Elise Boulding recommends using networks for social action. She specifically mentions using sister-city projects as a starting point. She recommends using the Geographic volume of the current Yearbook of International Organizations (available at community libraries) to identify the International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) represented in your sister city’s country. Making a list of the INGOs will enable you to identify occupational and special-interest INGOs to which members of your community belong. Next, find out which of these have a local branch in your sister city to increase contact between residents of the sister cities.

Sister-city projects aren’t the only way to build your network for social action. You could start simply by researching what nonprofit organizations and social action organizations operate in your area. Identify what these organizations are trying to do in your community, the nation, and the world. Once you’ve done so, begin exploring whether anyone you know belongs to or works with these organizations. You may even find organizations that you want to join to be a part of caring for others, tackling important problems, or remedying injustices in American society.

Habib Todd Boerger, Elise Boulding in Practicing Democracy in Your Neighborhood by Habib Todd Boerger