Outreach Spotlight: Our Democracy Project

Outreach Spotlight: Our Democracy Project


The Our Democracy Project explores the question, “What does democracy look like in our individual lives and communities?” through the creation of a multimedia record of the state of local, everyday democracy today. The project is designed to empower middle school, high school and college classrooms to tell their story, bridge America’s divide and create a better understanding of the media.

In partnership with Our Democracy Project and the National Writing Project, PhotoWings is pleased to share a toolkit and launch a student/community publication site that lets us all explore the question. The toolkit and site will enable a broad and inclusive conversation about the ideas that are the backbone of our political system.

The Our Democracy Project gets to know the participants in each location by starting a community discussion around these three specific questions:

What do you like about your community?

What would you like to change about your community?

How would you change it?


By participating, students can share their perspectives on democracy in writing, video or photography and publish their work on the National Writing Project map of the United States.

The toolkit includes resources to support classrooms as they create multimedia content for the Our Democracy map. Teachers and students can choose from a playlist of quick activities for exploring democracy and a collection of suggested storytelling projects. The words, photography and video that students produce about their lives and communities will echo that work. The toolkit also provides links to PhotoWings online resources, as well as short lists of resources from other media education organizations. The words, photography and video students produce about their lives and communities will echo work published in National Geographic online.

The Our Democracy Toolkit, created by award-winning educator Lorraine Ustaris, has been designed for learning communities who need the flexibility to engage with the project at varying levels of participation and commitment. Teachers can choose to try one activity in the collection, complete a few lessons, or even integrate the entire toolkit into their curriculum. 

The Our Democracy Education Project is a partnership with the National Writing Project and PhotoWings. The Project is also supported by the National Geographic Society and CatchLight.

Learn more via CatchLight:
The Search for ‘Our Democracy’ with Photojournalist Andrea Bruce

How to Participate:

● Check out the homepage for the project here:
● See if the toolkit provides useful activities for your classroom
● Sign up at the site to receive a code that will allow you and your students
to upload their work while protecting their privacy
● Upload the finished products in word, video or photo form
● Interact with classrooms in other regions

We can’t wait to see your students’ involvement as you encourage visual storytelling
and conversations about our democracy!

Learn more

Explore the Our Democracy Toolkit



Watch: Andrea Bruce discussing Our Democracy, CatchLight Visual Storytelling Summit 2019

Quick advice on how to approach documenting the word democracy in your community from National Geographic photographer Andrea Bruce.


A few fundamentals for filming documentary interviews from Our Democracy's videographer Lorraine Ustaris.

Five tips for interviewing and writing your interview into a story presented by Our Democracy writer Rebecca Lee Sanchez.