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Democracy School – Civics 2.0 – Comes to Cheltenham October 22

Ready to revisit those riveting civics classes you had in high school? How about a version based on real-world politics and society, grounded in the nitty-gritty of everyday life – your life? Folks in two community-based organizations in Cheltenham, We the People and Transition Town, are offering just that. It’s called The Daniel Pennock Democracy School, and it is a full-day seminar focusing on how we got to the point of what Common Cause calls “democracy hijacked,” and what can be done to bring the levers of government back into the hands of regular citizens.

The full-day event set for Saturday, October 22, covers the roots of democracy and takes participants through a fast-paced historical sequence that identifies key junctures and explains how economic power has substantially overshadowed the democratic role of citizens in the governance of American society, especially since the Civil War, according to the sponsors.

“The Democracy School is so important because it offers people the opportunity to discuss and learn what they need to know about self-governance in their own communities,” said Monica Liggins of We the People.

Ben Price of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) is the class facilitator. CELDF assisted We the People and other Cheltenham citizens in their campaign for a more direct voice in their local government over the last two years. CELDF works in communities across the country, including in Pittsburgh, where the City Council unanimously adopted a CELDF-drafted ordinance banning horizontal drilling for natural gas, or “fracking,” in the city.

Internationally, CELDF helped the country of Ecuador write their new constitution, which includes a legally enforceable clause on “The Rights of Nature,” guaranteeing the ecosystem’s right to exist and flourish.

The registration fee of $40 includes all course materials plus continental breakfast and lunch, with food catered by Linda Jean’s Grille in Wyncote. The class will be at Fellowship House at Calvary Presbyterian Church, Fernbrook and Kent Roads in Wyncote. The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information or to register, contact Monica Liggins at 215-572-6437 or

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  1. John Dunphy

    “Not to know the relative disposition of things is the state of children and slaves” so says John Newman. An educated electorate is essential. CELDF’s Democracy School is a step toward informed conversation that helps to empower an effective electorate. If we want good government we need know how things work and what we need to do to reclaim our voices.

  2. Tom McHugh

    This Democracy School is a real eye-opener. Prior to the gilded age of big steel, big coal, big oil and big railroads, corporations did not have the rights of individual persons. In fact, originally in this country, corporations were state licensed and temporary for things like fur trading and projects like building bridges and canals. Now all corporations have the legal rights of individual citizens and some have enough money and political clout to start and even wage war. In other words corporations are running our lives now. Before people can do anything to correct this terrible situation, they need to learn about it.