Many of us already contribute to civic life. We pay taxes, vote, and volunteer in our communities. We often take these things for granted, or sometimes we gripe about them or scoff at their effectiveness, but these are the glue that holds our democracy together. We like to think of them as civic superpowers, and there are so many more.
Whatever you do in business, government, or at the grassroots to support your local community or the larger state or national communities, you are strutting your superpower stuff.
In case you’re ready to exercise – or maybe discover – another of your civic superpowers, we’ve tried to make it easy for you by gathering
together some of the many tools and resources from around the net and present them here for you to
- Dive deeper into research of one or more of the topics covered here
- Find interesting work as a volunteer or paid employee of one these organization
- Get inspired to do what previously you had only imagined
Know of another cool tool or resource? Tell us about it please! Sharing knowledge is one of the most fundamental civic superpowers in a democracy.
Make your voice heard in government
How to Contact Your Elected Officials. USA.gov shows you how to contact elected officials from the President on down to your state and local political representatives. It includes helpful links as wells.
GovTrack.us enables you to track and learn about legislation proposed in Congress. It can also connect you with your US senators and representative so you can tell them how you feel about the bills that interest you.
VOTE411 was launched by the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF) in October 2006. It is a one-stop-shop for election-related information, including responses from state and local candidates to specific questions.
Project VoteSmart provides free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials to all Americans. It aims to give you the information you need to … vote smart.
For voters and election administrators
I Side With. Take a quiz on where you stand on different issues and this site’s very cool AI will analyze your responses to determine which presidential candidate you side with.
Atlas of Redistricting. FiveThirtyEight has created an interactive map that provides the ability to look at each state and what different ways of drawing district lines would look like. If we reject partisan gerrymandering, what takes its place – ensuring competitive elections, minority representation, simplified (more “fair”) borders?
Voting Technology Project (VTP) Toolkit. From MIT and Caltech, this site offers election administrators a variety of tools to help plan and conduct elections.
ElectionTools.org. This site offers communication and administrative tools for election officials.
VOTE411. Vote 411 offers ballot information for local, state, and federal elections. Confirm that you’re registered, find your local polling place, see who/what is on the ballot.
Vote.org. Find everything you need to make sure you’re ready to vote: confirm/complete your registration, get your absentee ballot, request election reminders, and if you’re too young to vote, pledge to register to vote and get a reminder when you turn 18.
TurboVote. Used by colleges and universities to register students, TurboVote makes it easy to register to vote, request an absentee ballot, and registration and election deadlines and where to go to vote.
BallotReady. This site tells you who your current elected officials are and who will be on the ballot at the next election.
Nonprofit Vote. Like the name says, this site helps nonprofits engage the people they serve in voting and elections with a variety of useful tools and resources.
Project VoteSmart. Project VoteSmart provides free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials to all Americans. It aims to give you the information you need to vote smart.
US Election Assistance Commission. The EAC offers assistance to election officials as well as voters, including a page of resources for voters with disabilities.
For Vetted Solutions
Project Drawdown is a world-class research organization that reviews, analyses, and identifies the most viable global climate solutions and shares these findings with the world. Want to see how possible it is to solve the many facets of the climate change crisis? This is a great place to start.
For Business Leaders and Investors
Ceres, a sustainability non-profit, offers a variety of reports, tools, and other resources to educate and inspire investors and corporate leaders to take action on sustainability issues, including climate change.
Climate Progress Dashboard was designed for investors by Schroders, a global asset and wealth management company based in Luxembourg. It analyzes the political, business, technology, and entrenched industries sectors to compare a range of factors in terms of likely degrees of warming. Schroders believes its clients need to understand the risks and opportunities of climate change and the pace of the transition to a decarbonized world.
Aqueduct from World Resources Institute offers two sets of mapping tools: One that that helps companies, investors, governments, and other users understand where and how water risks and opportunities are emerging in the US and around the world. The other measures river flood impacts by urban damage, affected GDP, and affected population at the country, state, and river basin scale.
For Innovators and Entrepreneurs
Conservation X Labs applies technology, entrepreneurship, and open innovation to source, develop, and scale critical solutions to the underlying drivers of climate change and other threats to life on earth. The organization was co-founded by Alex Dehgan, a conservation biologist and former science adviser and chief scientist at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), who worries that the loss of plant and animal species are lost opportunities to discover potentially life-saving medical treatments. By offering prizes to spur innovation and through its own programs, the organization expects to test and bring to market a wide range of creative technology-based solutions to problems brought on by climate change.
For Local, State, and National Governments
Institute for Sustainable Communities is a Vermont-based not-for-profit that helps local communities to build resilience to climate-related disruptions. It has active programs in all 50 states.
For Citizen Scientists
eBird and iNaturalist are just two projects that use crowdsourced observations to gather data on birds and other species that is shared with science researchers. The research contributes to our knowledge of species populations and migration patterns and any changes occurring to them.
iMatter was founded in 2007 as Kids vs. Global Warming and continues today as a youth-focused activist organization. Its activities now include community awareness projects, speaking engagements, federal lawsuits, and worldwide marches.
In Your Community
The Climate Reality Project mobilizes at the grassroots level to make urgent action on climate change a necessity at every level of society. The project empowers everyday people to become activists, equipped with the tools, training, and network to fight for solutions and drive change planet-wide. It has established 100 active chapters in the US and mobilized more than 19,000 Climate Reality Leaders in over 150 countries.
In Climate research needs to change to help communities plan for the future, climate scientist Robert Kopp describes an iterative, community-driven model for addressing the impacts of climate change that has its roots in the land-grant universities of the 19th century.
Solar-Estimate offers a free resource that helps homeowners learn about home solar panels and provides an easy-to-use calculator that determines a general estimate of the savings you would get from having solar panels. Note that to get this estimate, you will need to enter your contact information so that up to four companies can contact you with actual estimates.
Everyday Enviro is a weekly podcast hosted by Danielle Vogel, founder of the first and possibly only grocery store created to make progress on climate change. She talks with friends, colleagues, and former colleagues about eating, drinking, and shopping and offers her listeners simple ways they can minimize their carbon footprint.
Purchasing a hybrid or electric vehicle greatly reduces CO2 emissions and for one car company, this is its primary reason for being. Car and Driver magazine reviewed the top 25 hybrid and electric vehicles in 2018 and lists the base price of each vehicle.
Charity Navigator offers this list of highly rated action and advocacy organizations that support environmental protection and conservation issues. It’s nicely organized and presents budget, program, and historical information on each so you can decide which organization is most worthy of your investment of time and/or money.
Carbon Footprint Calculator. Curious what your carbon footprint is? This easy-to-use carbon footprint calculator from the US Environmental Protection Agency can tell you in just a few minutes.
How will climate change affect where you live?
Climate Effects on Cities in 2080 interactive map is an application developed by the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science. It includes analysis of 540 urban areas in the US and Canada and maps the expected climate-related impacts for the year 2080 under two scenarios: 1) should there be no change in current policies (captured by the climate model called RCP 8.5) and 2) should relatively realistic mitigation efforts be adopted (captured in the climate model called RCP 4.5).
Climate Hazards in 2050 from Climate Central gives you a look at which hazards will affect individual cities the most in the year 2050. It compares two scenarios: 1) one with no change in current policies (model RCP 8.5), and 2) one that cuts emissions to zero by 2070 (the low-emissions climate model called RCP 2.6).
Climate Central’s Urban Warming is an interactive tool that allows you to see how much dozens of cities have warmed since 1970. It allows you to compare warming in a particular city against state-wide warming and the average warming across the US.
Monitor the scope and impacts of climate change
Climate Change Dashboard from NOAA offers a nifty if somewhat technical overview of different aspects of climate change and current projections. The interactive dashboard provides analyses of such effects as sea level rise, glacier melt, and the warming effect of heat-trapping gases. More detail on each item is a click away.
NASA’s Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet monitors key indicators of climate change and explains NASA’s role in providing data that is essential to climate change research.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations organization established in 1988 for assessing the science related to climate change.
Examine Your Budget Priorities
The Debt Fixer is an intuitive interactive tool that challenges you to establish a federal budget that reduces the debt. This is a great tool to examine and balance your priorities for the nation – the trade offs are not always so obvious and the decisions can be hard. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which created the tool, has set up this special link for visitors to The American Leader. At some point, we will share and then regularly update the results.
How old will you be when Social Security’s funds run out? Enter the year you were born to find out what’s in store for you, then design your own fix for social security. Another free tool from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Trade-Offs: Your Money, Your Choices is a tool from the National Priorities Project that gives you clear, pre-defined spending options that you can select as trade-offs in realigning federal budget priorities to what you think they ought to be. It’s not quite so intuitive to use and navigate to an endpoint, but it does a nice job of challenging us to think about some tough choices.
Your Federal Income Tax Receipt is another interactive tool from the National Priorities Projects that shows how your federal tax dollars were spent. It links to the Trade-Offs tool (above) to enable you to “reallocate your tax dollars”.
Charity Navigator offers this list of action and advocacy organizations that support environmental protection and conservation issues. It’s nicely organized and presents budget, program, and historical information on each so you can decide which organization is most worthy of your investment of time and/or money.
Learn More About the Debt
The Comprehensive Solutions on the Peterson Foundation website introduces the Solutions Initiative, which in 2015 brought together recommendations from five policy organizations across the political spectrum. The Solutions Initiative III summarizes these recommendations and offers charts that make it easy to compare them to each other and to current federal policy.
“Federal Government Growth Before the New Deal” offers the perspective of Professor Randall G. Holcombe, who teaches economics at the University of Florida. In his essay, Prof. Holcombe explains that by 1913, the federal government had evolved to be a protector of the nation’s economic well-being. Published on the website of the Foundation for Economic Education.
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It is the book by Peter G. Peterson that eventually led to the establishment of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. It was published in 2004.