Here at Manny Cantor Center, we aspire to be a light in our neighborhood, and a place where people feel welcomed, safe, and inspired to take action. As a community center, we are a place where people gather and connect with one another—people from all different races, cultures, religions and socioeconomic circumstances convene within our center each day. We’re proud of the community we are a part of on the Lower East Side, and proud of the community we all help create within our walls. In the coming months we will be ramping up our civic engagement work to ensure that we can all continue to create the community we want to live in, and to support the amazing work each member and program participant contributes.
This year, we are taking part in United Neighborhood Houses Voter Mobilization Cohort. This initiative is tackling the challenge of New York State being in the bottom 10 of all states for our voter turnout rates. In the last primary, only 14% of New Yorkers voted. There are of course a myriad of reasons for this, part of which is that New York has restrictive voting laws — not allowing early voting, automatic voter registration, or same day registration — all of which would make it easier for people to make their voices heard. But in the end, it is up to all of us to increase the percentage of New Yorkers voting, which could in turn have a huge impact on our quality of life — from housing prices, to education, to not having quite as many MTA delays. With our state primary approaching on September 13th, 2018, you’ll be seeing Manny Cantor Center staff and volunteers out in the community registering people to vote, asking you to take a voting pledge, and providing resources and opportunities to get educated about the candidates and issues you care about.
And coming up very soon, on Sunday, June 3rd, we will be kicking off our summer civic engagement efforts with an exciting workshop called Real Politics 101, which will be led by Ben Yee, the Obama Campaign’s digital director in 2008. Ben has been involved in every level of politics, and lives and works in our community. He understands not just how New York State politics operates, but how our very own local community politics work. His workshop will help demystify the complex and confusing nature of how our democracy works, and share the best ways each of us can take part in it to affect meaningful change. Following the workshop we are going to host a community meet-up, where we can all come together to brainstorm ideas, share resources and make plans for how we want to show-up for the Lower East Side.
Democracy only works if we participate as active citizens. At MCC we are committed to supporting our community in civic engagement efforts, being a resource, and providing civics and educational opportunities to ensure each person’s voice has the opportunity to be heard.
We hope you join us for Learn, Meet & Mobilize on Sunday, June 3rd from 11:30am-2pm. You can learn more and RSVP here. Stay tuned for many opportunities to get involved, and please let us know how we can support and highlight your own civic engagement efforts.