Utah Voices: What does civic engagement mean to you?

Share your perspective with The Salt Lake Tribune.

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Demonstrators march along 1300 East during the Martin Luther King Jr. rally and march in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.

Civic engagement, when a group or individual takes action to address issues of public concern, has been shown to benefit communities and improve health outcomes. We asked our Top Stories newsletter subscribers when they felt especially engaged in civic life in their community. The answers below came from those subscribers and followers.

Let us know what you think here or in the form below, and subscribe to Top Stories to share your insight.

  • “Anytime I participate in a march, where people are gathered together in a group to protest something, advocate for people’s rights or make our voices heard. Calling or emailing my elected officials also makes me feel engaged. However, getting a written response from an elected official saying they plan to do exactly the opposite of what I believe is right makes me feel powerless to effect change.” — Robin, Cottonwood Heights

  • “Right now. I was just elected to the Town Council at Large in Brighton.” — Lise, Brighton

  • “The time I felt most engaged in civic life was during the pandemic. I’d realized there was a lot of confusion and fear at the beginning, and I wanted to help people in my area see the facts of the matter. I did this by using my experience in data science to try to make the information more approachable, to explain mischaracterized studies in more meaningful terms and to combat misinformation with cited facts. It felt good to be making such a difference to so many people. I was told regularly how it helped people feel more calm about all the chaos. That it made things easier to deal with when I would explain the technical jargon in more simple and less scary terms. That it made people feel safer to see the county level and per-capita data instead of just the big scary state-wide numbers. It wasn’t all good, unfortunately. People became so polarized due to misinformation. Even my own brother, who doesn’t even live in this state, ended up attacking me for ‘pushing fake numbers’ and ‘lying to scare people.’ It was such an issue that we no longer speak to each other, and haven’t for years now. I had set out to help people by providing clarity in a chaotic and confusing time, but the politics of it all ended up tearing a rift between me and my family that still hasn’t healed. I know I was doing a good thing, but I never imagined it would cost my relationship with my brother. Looking back I wouldn’t have done any differently. Sometimes doing the right thing hurts, but it still needs to be done.” — Alex, Bountiful

  • As mayor, it’s daily. As a resident, it was voting last November to approve the new fire station bond and elect city council representatives.” — Monica, Sandy

  • “Throughout high school, college and now as a working adult, I strive to show up with and for my community as often as possible. What that looks like for me varies — I attend as many rallies and protest events as my schedule allows; I contact my local and state representatives with any concerns I have about local, national and international events/legislation; I attend community organizations’ events and follow their social media accounts to stay up to date on issues affecting our communities; I share current policies/legislation/issues with my immediate social circles to increase awareness on many issues; I reach out to my city council. It feels fulfilling to meet people on the ground and learn their stories, why they care about civic engagement and their unique abilities to connect with the community. It feels spiritually and intellectually enriching to become entrenched in community, because where would we be as individuals without community? A strong community is the cornerstone of any healthy society; everyone wants to belong without fear of discrimination or oppression. While I don’t currently serve in leadership roles in civic organizations, I have in the past and learned many useful organizing skills.” — Maya, Salt Lake City

The Salt Lake Tribune is committed to creating a space where Utahns can share ideas, perspectives and solutions that move our state forward. We rely on your insight to do this. Find out how to share your opinion here, and email us at voices@sltrib.com.