By Christopher Smith
The state of a community’s civic activity is vital to that community’s moral health, Amber Lesicko says.
That’s why Lesicko, coordinator for leadership and civic engagement in the Office of Student Life at Dalton State College, is trying to find out how citizens of Whitfield County are faring in their civic duties.
The office has drafted a survey for locals to take through the end of September to see how often they’re voting, where they get their news, how often they volunteer and how much they trust their neighbors and their elected officials.
“A lot of it is to make sure people are involved in their community,” Lesicko said. “We want to know the health of civic activity in the area. Being involved in local politics and volunteerism shows that people enjoy where they’re living and they want to make it the best place they can.”
The survey is part of the American Democracy Project, a New York Times-funded program on several college campuses that aims to help communities become more engaged in the democratic process.
“The goal is to figure out how Dalton State students and the bigger community are engaged in these important things,” Lesicko said.
To make sure everyone is involved, Dalton State has formed a committee overseeing the survey, which includes members from the college, the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, the University of Georgia’s Archway Partnership, United Way, Dalton Public Schools and city government. Officials hope to use the survey results to see what areas are lacking so they can help the community improve with various programs, Lesicko said. What programs might spring out of the survey won’t be clear until the results are in, she noted.
The results are expected to be “aggregated” by January, with program planning set for May of next year, Lesicko said.
“The more civilly involved, the better the community is, the more people want to come here,” she said. “We’re really excited. We really want people to take the survey. We really encourage people to be honest and open so we can better find ways to support them.”
Lesicko said she hopes to get at least 5,000 responses by the end of September. To take part in the survey, visit tinyurl.com/civichealth. For a version of the survey in Spanish, visit tinyurl.com/civichealthesp.