The Our Common Purpose communities project launches Lexington as inaugural city in national initiative

December 9, 2022

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced the launch of the Our Common Purpose Communities Project, a national coalition of municipalities committed to strengthening American democracy. Lexington will be the first city in the nation to join this effort and help lead this grassroots charge.

“Lexington residents are proud of their city and always interested in ways we can improve,” said Mayor Linda Gorton, who announced the partnership at a virtual conference hosted by the American Academy.  “This new partnership, hosted by the American Academy, will offer new ways to participate in civic life here in Lexington. More citizen participation will strengthen our city.”

The Communities Project seeks to advance recommendations proposed in a landmark bipartisan report on democratic resilience from the Academy, Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century.

“This is a pivotal time for American democracy. We know Americans want democracy and we know they are often frustrated by what they observe at the state and national levels, so it is heartening and important that local leaders are at the forefront of reinvigorating our commitment to democratic practices. We are inspired by the work that has already been accomplished in Lexington and throughout Kentucky. Thank you for becoming the first Our Common Purpose community.”

David Oxtoby, President of the Academy, which was founded in 1780

As part of its Our Common Purpose commitment, Lexington will implement two recommendations from the 31 recommendations set forth in the Academy’s report:

  • Responsive government: Design a new process to encourage resident participation in public meetings and hearings
  • Culture of shared commitment: Invest in civic education opportunities for residents of all ages

The report was authored by a diverse commission comprised of leaders in academia, civil society, politics, and business from across the ideological spectrum. In the course of its work, the commission met with citizens and local leaders across the country, including in Lexington, whose residents participated in multiple listening sessions that were integral to the development of the report’s recommendations.

In October, the Academy returned to Lexington, where it held a full day of events co-hosted by Blue Grass Community Foundation to celebrate contributions made by Kentucky residents to the report and to discuss plans for implementing the report’s recommendations with city leaders.

“BGCF is honored to continue our work with the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Our mission at BGCF is to create more generous, vibrant, engaged and equitable communities. What we do at the Community Foundation is only possible if we have a strong, healthy democracy, which is why we are committed to the Lexington work of strengthening democracy locally.”

Lisa Adkins, BGCF President/CEO