Civics 101

Why Local Government Matters

An important note – Because of the popularity of civics programming (yay!), we have spun off much of our civics programming into a separate organization. Introducing… A Functional Democracy.

A Functional Democracy is dedicated to teaching all Austinites (and especially millennials) how to get involved in local government and to make a difference in their community, no matter which issues are important to them. It was co-founded by AEN Editor-In-Chief Amy Stansbury.

You can follow A Functional Democracy on Facebook or Instagram to learn more, or check out the website at

More great news! A Functional Democracy just published its first book – “A Beginner’s Guide To Local Government: Austin Edition.” This fun and interactive book teaches you everything you need to know to become a changemaker… right here in Austin, Texas. The books are available online via a Kickstarter campaign. You can get yours here!

Beginner's Guide Pictures


Follow the Austin EcoNetwork and A Functional Democracy on Facebook for more information about upcoming civics events and programs!

Local government is important. It affects us all. Whether we’re talking about the air we breathe, the water we drink, the energy we use, or the parks we play in, local government matters.

And that means each and every one of us has the opportunity to get involved and help make important decisions about the future of our city. Austin is at a crucial point in its history. The city is currently dealing with some of the biggest problems of the 21st century –  climate change, affordability, traffic.

When it comes to issues like these, there is no roadmap to follow. Now is the time to be innovative, and our local government can’t do it alone. They need input, ideas, and participation from the public.

But, what if you don’t know how?

That’s why we created this project. With “Civics 101” we hope to give you the tools you need to become a more active and engaged Austinite. We want to empower you to make a change and a difference in your community, even if you’ve never even stepped foot inside City Hall before.

Now that matters.

*And we have an update for 2017 – In the new year, we want to go big on civics education in Austin. This is our city and it’s time for all of us to learn how to get involved. We’ve made the commitment to help 1,000 Austinites get more involved in local government in 2017 through our in-person Civics 101 trainings. Send us an email at to schedule a Civics 101 talk for your social club, organization, office, or favorite neighborhood bar. We’ll come to you! Together, we can make a difference.*

Why Local Government Matters

Wondering why you should even care about any of this? With our latest interactive “Notes” feature, entitled, “Why Local Government Matters,” AEN Editor-In-Chief Amy Stansbury answers all of your questions. She explains why local government is so interesting to her and then points out the many aspects of life that it touches. If you care about climate change, or traffic, or Lady Bird Lake, you care about local government. Check it out here.

Why Local Government Matters

City Hall: A User's Guide

We’re not going to lie. For the local government newbie, all of this information might seem a bit overwhelming. So, where do you start?

Right here. That’s why we created “City Hall, A User’s Guide.” It’s got all the info you need to know about how our local government works, and most importantly, how you can get involved.

And don’t worry. You don’t need to be a political science major to follow along. We wrote this for all of you who just asked the question, “Where the heck is City Hall anyway?”.

Start exploring through the guide today. There’s no time like the present.

City Hall: A User's Guide

Civics 101 Videos

Local Elections

We just finished up a big election season here in Austin. We selected two new City Council members to represent us at City Hall and we approved one of the largest transportation bonds the city has even seen.

But local elections can be a funny thing sometimes. They often don’t get the news coverage they deserve and the attention they do get is usually pretty boring.

Here at the Austin EcoNetwork, we tried to change that by taking our Civics 101 series to the next level – local elections. We’ve put together a series of in-depth podcasts, voter guides, and interviews to give you all the info you need to know about Austin’s 2016 election cycle. And even though the elections are over, there is still a lot to be learned from all this information. After all, those former candidates are now our current City Council members, and it’s always a good thing to keep an eye on what they said and did while on the campaign trail.

Happy Hour Series

In additional to our online resources, we love to bring our Civics 101 information to life… and that usually involves a happy hour. Last summer, the Austin EcoNetwork teamed up with in.gredients to bring you a summer happy hour series – “Civics 101: Beer and the power of getting involved.” The series included inspiring guest speakers and knowledgable experts who answered questions and taught attendees how to make an impact.

Missed our summer series? Never fear, because we’re bringing it back again this year. Stay tuned for a new set of dates, information, and fun.

And in the meantime, if you’re hungry for some civics education, send us an email at content@austineconetwork, and we can schedule a personalized Civics 101 talk for your organization, office, or social club. We’re happy to do it!


Civics 101 General Flyer