Discussion (1L): Rebuilding Civil Society from the Ground Up (241X): Since America's founding, local political engagement (through participation, leadership, and organizing in local politics) has been a linchpin of our democratic order and adult education. That engagement is deeply challenged today by economic segregation, technological and media changes, the downsizing of local journalism, and the loss of institutions that forge local social networks (such as small businesses, churches, and neighborhood-based nonprofits). Yet meanwhile, poor and working class communities need local solutions and activism to face severe challenges such as environmental disasters, low wages, drug addiction, family dissolution, and disinvestment in basic services, schools, and infrastructure. This reading group will sit with stories and strategies of local democratic reengagement. Through a range of readings (from memoir to academic commentary) as well as films and podcasts, we'll discuss a deliberately diverse set of voices, from environmental justice activists to conservative thought leaders. We'll situate our discussions in a diverse set of urban and rural places, including California's agricultural interior, rural Alabama, Oregon's timber counties, post-industrial Massachusetts, and urban Mississippi. My hope is that our group of students--like the authors and protagonists of our discussions--will be racially, politically, economically, and geographically heterogeneous, allowing us to envision and teach each other to become better actors in the project of local political engagement for the public good. Class meets 5:00 PM-7:00 PM on Sept. 28, Oct. 12, Oct. 26, Nov. 16. Elements used in grading: Full attendance, reading of assigned materials, and active participation.