We recently celebrated the inaugural Civic Trustees from Trenton, Perth Amboy, and Newark at our Celebration of Civic Innovation Gala.  In his speech to the Trustees and the other esteemed attendees, our Chairman, Harry Pozycki, talked about how we got here, the commitment of the Trustees and their incredible accomplishments to date.  He also talked a little bit about hope.

 (The Civic Trustees from Trenton, Perth Amboy & Newark)

Most of us have experienced hope at one time or another. For most of us, hope is a feeling that occasionally inspires us to feel optimistic about the future. But it’s more than that. Hope has been studied as a psychological component of success and well-being for decades now. It’s an emotional signal that influences our thinking about the future; it tells us that achieving our goals is possible. Hope is a combination of two critical factors: 1) your interest or will to achieve a goal, and 2) your sense that there is a way to achieve that goal.  Without both of these factors, hope cannot exist.

It seems simple enough, but marrying the will with a successful way can be a challenge, especially when it comes to politics and government.

For example, many people have the will, or strong desire, to improve their community.  With the best intentions, they seek to accomplish their goals by trying all of the "ways" that are available to them: They vote for the “right” candidate, they attend government meetings, they work with their neighbors, and yet nothing changes.  They discover that the way is blocked.  Too often they grow cynical and disillusioned, they lose their will, and they give up hope.

For the past 15 years, The Citizens Campaign has been engaged in a series of initiatives to revitalize our democracy, to put the power back into the hands of the people, so that citizens with the will have a way to play a more empowered role in shaping their communities.  It’s resulted in something remarkable, a powerful and viable way for ordinary citizens to achieve their goals - The Civic Trust.

The Civic Trust is unique in its ability to bring together ordinary citizens (Civic Trustees) who share a passion for their city along with a powerful will to improve their communities, and it provides them with a way – the necessary elements for success including expert support, coaching, training and a safe place to work with their fellow Trustees – to achieve their goals.

Over the course of one year, Civic Trustees in Trenton and Perth Amboy have shown that together a will and a way are an unstoppable force.  Their accomplishments astound us and inspire us to believe that maybe, just maybe, there is a brighter future ahead for our citizens, our cities, and our democracy. 

Please be sure to check in regularly on their ongoing success at www.thecitizenscampaign.org/playbook.

~ Amanda Conley Ayers


Amanda Conley "AC" Ayers is the Strategic Research Analyst at The Citizens Campaign. She is a co-editor of the Oxford University Press’s The Oxford Handbook of Happiness. She possesses a comprehensive understanding of the psychology of well-being and its many applications, including politics and government.