Dinner is one thing; political involvement is another

by Jeff Bahr, the Grand Island Independent, Nebraska

While Nebraskans are great about having dinner with other household members, they could do a little better in political involvement. Those were two of the points shared on Tuesday by Kelsey Arends of Nebraskans for Civic Reform in a talk to the Grand Island Rotary Club. Arends discussed the results of the first-ever Nebraska Civic Health Index. A total of 92.7 percent of Nebraskans report eating dinner with other members of their household frequently, for the second-highest rate in the country. The nationwide average is 87.8 percent. That Òsocial connectednessÓ ranks among NebraskaÕs strongest areas of civic health, the report says. Arends asked the Rotary audience how many had contacted or visited a public official in the last 12 months. She was impressed when three-quarters raised their hands. But for Nebraskans as a whole, only 12.2 percent have contacted or visited a public official in the last 12 months, placing the state 27th among all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The stateÕs weakest area of civic health is political involvement, which includes voting and contacting public officials, the report says. Lots of good things happen when people are civically engaged, Arends said. She also said that communities are stronger when their citizens own them together. Arends told the group that Nebraskans for Civic Reform works to create a more modern and robust democracy for all Nebraskans. The nonpartisan, nonprofit organization is based in Lincoln. ~1@BODYURL[id=114jbcurl1357]@