Commentary: Change into concerned in local people to vary politics – Delaware State Information
By Monica Shockley-Porter
One of the things I have found most fascinating about Delaware since becoming a resident of Kent County almost two years ago is how easy it is to become civically engaged. Perhaps due to the size of the state and the overall culture, it was very easy to connect with individuals in the community striving to make a difference.
In January 2019, as a new resident, I enrolled in the Mary Ann Shadd Cary and Margaret Rose Henry Civic Engagement Program. Designed to measurably increase the civic engagement of participants through awareness of and improved access to training and leadership development, the program, facilitated by the Delaware chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, targets Black women statewide.
Through my engagement in the program, I became aware of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League (MWUL), Network Delaware and the Fund for Women. My exposure to these organizations served as a catalyst that led to my involvement in these service groups.
Due to my volunteer service with the MWUL Young Professionals and other organizations across the state, I was encouraged to apply for the James H. Gilliam Sr. Fellows Program. Through this program, I learned more about Delaware’s political and economic arenas from a host of legislators, community advocates and business leaders across the state. It may not have been possible to meet and dialogue with these individuals had I not been enrolled. I met young and diverse professionals, and we worked together on policy research, coalition-building and navigating the local political landscape.
I am not a policy expert or someone with a background in politics and elections, but after attending a few of these programs, I realized I could make a difference in my own area. I believe that the more Delawareans become involved in their local communities, the better the outcomes we’ll have in our political and civic systems. For example, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ 2020 Social Determinants of Health study found that people who are more civically engaged had better overall health rates.
One piece of good news for Delaware is that the number of people getting involved is already on the rise. Over the past few years, more and more Delawareans have engaged in the political process, including running for office or volunteering on a political campaign. This election year alone had the most primary upsets in recent political history. In 2022, due to redistricting, every seat in the General Assembly will be up for election. So every community across our state will have the opportunity to witness policy debates and exchange ideas to move our state forward.
Moreover, civic engagement doesn’t have to be the same for everyone. There are many kinds of civic engagement, and we all have issues that we care about. The Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, Network Delaware and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women can help translate your passion into action to make a difference in your community, improve the quality of policy being developed or just become better informed. Whatever your why, these organizations, along with many others, can help you find your how.
So whether you want to run for office, push for policy change at the local or state level or organize with your neighbors to improve your neighborhood, there are plenty of ways to get involved here in Delaware.
All you have to do is start.Monica Shockley-Porter lives in Clayton with her husband and daughter and is an active member of the Delaware chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League Young Professionals and Network Delaware. If interested in an overview of running for office, sign up for Network Delaware’s Run for Office workshop Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. Also, if interested in a comprehensive course on running for office, apply for Network Delaware’s Candidate School, which starts in February (early application deadline is Jan. 15).