Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What’s Congress Week? Ask Us!

The United States Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787. This short document not only recites personal liberties but also lays out the basic functions and structures of government. The event that launched the first experiment in self-governance is now celebrated as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. This is the foundation for Congress Week, a national initiative of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress.

Right: Russell staff members showing their love for Congress Week!

This week, across the country, congressional papers and public policy centers like the Russell Library are celebrating this first Congress Week observance. It is the intent of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (ACSC) to promote a greater understanding of the Legislative branch of government – critical in the checks and balances outlined in the Constitution. Congress, often the object of scorn, distrust, and low scores in opinion polls, is also poorly understood by the American electorate. This coordinated effort at public programming will highlight the functions, relationships, structures, and limitations of the largest elected body in the land.

The ACSC, in promoting the study of Congress, has identified themes for Congress Week that invite exploration, discussion, and discovery. We believe the work of Congress cannot be fully appreciated without a forum for civil discourse. Our goals are to encourage civic engagement, inform the community and promote active participation in the political process. In keeping with the notion that “all politics is local,” ACSC encourages it members to tailor Congress Week events to their own resources and audiences.

The 2010 Congress Week Theme, Main Street to Capitol Hill, is about relationships constituents have with their delegation. Constituents range from the individual citizen and grass roots, single-issue interest groups to lobbyists representing state and local governments or industries and national political action committees. Constituents are everyone and anyone with a need or message to send to their congressional representatives.

Join the journey from Main Street to Capitol Hill! Passionate about an issue? Got an idea to fix gridlock or balance the budget? Explore the challenges and possibilities of representative government - take a moment this week to exercise your civic muscle and write your representative or pen an editorial for the local newspaper. Discover how to add historical gravitas to your prose, come by the Russell Library and check out over 40 congressional collections that cover tough public issues like health care, the economy, defense, education, and more. Discuss the issues - get civic by participating in one of the monthly community forums offered by the Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia, a civic engagement initiative at the Russell Library. September’s forum topic is the 21st Century Mission of Public Education and will take place on September 24th at 3 p.m. in the Russell auditorium.

The Russell research room and the Russell Exhibit Gallery are open Monday-Friday from 8:30AM-4:30PM. For more information, call 706-542-5788 or email

Post by Sheryl Vogt, Director, Russell Library

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