Seattle, WA – The Seattle CityClub and the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) released the 2013 Greater Seattle Civic Health Index. The report reveals how residents in the greater Seattle area engage in important civic activities such as voting, volunteering, and interacting with neighbors. This type of engagement is critical because it is linked to the economic and personal health of individuals and communities. Overall, the report finds Seattle’s civic health to be excellent, but with key areas of weakness in civic connection and trust.
“Seattleites are some of the most civically and politically engaged citizens in the country when given an issue to rally around,” said Diane Douglas, executive Director of the Seattle CityClub. “Yet, this report shows we still have work to do. As a metropolitan region, we struggle to master the informal, but powerful personal connections that grease the gears of compromise and action in our community. Given the strong pace of immigration into our region, we also must ensure that everyone is welcomed and empowered to participate in civic life.”
Compared to the top 50 metropolitan areas in America, greater Seattle ranked among the highest when it came to joining a school, neighborhood, or community association (1st), buying or boycotting a product (2nd), volunteering (3rd), and always voting in local elections (6th). However, residents fared among the worst when comparing indicators of informal participation such as talking with neighbors frequently (48th) and giving or receive favors with neighbors frequently (37th).
“Seattle CityClub is doing critical work by starting a conversation to further strengthen civic life in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties,” said Ilir Zherka, executive director of the National Conference on Citizenship. “While this report reveals clear challenges to greater Seattle’s civic health, Seattleites have a strong civic foundation and the skills to tackle these challenges.”
“This report is an important first step in building on our civic strengths and addressing our challenges, especially in developing civic connections and trust,” said Diane Douglas. “We will continue the work started today by disseminating these findings and activating partner organizations across the region to improve civic life in Seattle. Maintaining strong civic health is vital to sustaining regional prosperity.’
The report data was obtained primarily from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey on Voting, Volunteering and Civic Engagement. Following are additional key findings from the report:
-Seattleites donate to charity at significantly higher rates than the United States as a whole (59.9% to 51.1%). Seattle ranked 16th in donations to charity when comparing the top 51 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs).
-Greater Seattle has greater confidence in corporations and public schools when compared to both the United States and Washington state.
-Higher levels of education and income correlate with higher levels of almost every measure of political participation and civic involvement analyzed in the Civic Health Index.
The report also includes suggestions for reshaping the community’s civic environment. Large scale recommendations include investing in action oriented civic education, finding ways to build community pride and belonging, and communicating civic information across all available channels.