Two of my three children are newly registered voters and my youngest is just one year away from casting his first ballot.
Our family of five is a pretty passionate bunch and we each feel strongly about myriad political and social issues.
Over the past few years, however, I’ve noticed that these coming-of-age voters of mine seemed almost resigned to the notion that no matter how loudly they championed a cause, how many miles they marched in protest, or how long a letter they wrote to their representatives, nothing truly made a difference.
I witnessed these young, passionate adults begin to disengage from a political process that they had only had just earned the right to be a part of, despite each one’s deep devotion and ardent support for various issues.
As a parent it was heartbreaking to sense their resignation over our political dysfunction. As a citizen it was frightening to imagine the next generation of voters doubting and perhaps ultimately abandoning their role in our basic democratic process.
I began to think long and hard about what could be done to keep my children and so many others from feeling that our democracy was too polarized, too corrupt and too ineffective to work properly.
I soon realized that the root source of so much growing political dysfunction, especially in Pennsylvania, is the rampant gerrymandering of our voting districts, which slowly and perniciously undermines our government and diminishes the confidence of voters, my kids included.
I’m thrilled to be part of the Draw the Lines team, for the sake of a more effective and representative government and for the hope that all voters, new and returning, never feel that their vote can’t make a difference.
Rachel Colker has over 20 years experience managing programs and projects for some of Pittsburgh’s leading arts and cultural nonprofit organizations. Trained as a historian and archivist, Rachel worked for many years at the Heinz History Center as a researcher, curator and project coordinator. Her passion for storytelling led her to filmmaking and a position as Managing Director of Film Pittsburgh, a local film-presenting nonprofit, where she guided the organization’s significant growth through expanded programming, creative community building and effective patron engagement. Pittsburgh’s past, and the value of everyone’s voice in our collective story, is championed by Rachel through her current work as a nonprofit project manager, consulting historian and freelance writer.