The Transylvania Times -

Nov. 12 AAUW Meeting Will Discuss Democracy Project – Transylvania County, NC


November 4, 2019

Susan Lefler

Susan Lefler, president of Democracy Project of Transylvania County, Inc., will share a program about encouraging civic engagement in the community.

This session will be at the American Association of University Women (AAUW) monthly meeting at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 12. The meeting will be held at St. Timothy's United Methodist Church on the Asheville Highway, and the public is invited to attend.

The Democracy Project of Transylvania County was organized in 2017 and focuses on helping young people and the broader community learn how to practice and participate in democracy responsibly. One facet is promoting understanding of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes the freedoms inherent in American democracy, such as freedom of speech and a free press, as well as guaranteeing equal protection and rights to all citizens.

Lefler, a Brevard resident since 1976, coordinates the Democracy Project activities.

"The words that echo in my mind constantly are these: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...What haunts me is the question, what truths do we continue to hold in common, truths so basic that we simply agree on them without question?" she said.

The Democracy Project works with middle school teachers and students in the four local middle schools. Local community members are invited to speak with the students about their experiences of contributing to the civic life of their communities. The students then work with their teachers to develop projects as they explore how to express differing views respectfully, as well as how the concepts of democracy impact our lives as Americans. One overall goal is to bring together people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs and honor those differences.

When the projects are completed, the Democracy Project members collect the projects, which are evaluated by a panel of judges. Teacher teams in each school and winning student projects are awarded cash prizes. All projects are displayed at an awards night, which features student performances and international food.

The Democracy Project of Transylvania welcomes the community to their tent at the county festivals (most recently Halloweenfest). They invite people into conversation about what they hold in common as citizens of the United States and they welcome children of all ages to paint democracy rocks with words like listen, welcome, respect, learn, understand, speak and vote.

"A quote that constantly informs my hope for our democratic republic are the words of Thomas Jefferson who said: 'Educate and inform the whole mass of the people; they are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty,'" Lefler said.

A recognized poet and an author, Lefler has written two photographic histories of Brevard and served as a contributing editor, then managing editor for Smoky Mountain Living Magazine. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Queens University in Charlotte.

St. Timothy's United Methodist Church is at the corner of Asheville Highway and Hospital Drive, across the highway from Strauss Park. Park in front or at the side of the church and come in through the double front doors under the covered walkway facing Asheville Highway.

AAUW's mission is to promote equity for all women and girls through advocacy, philanthropy, education and research. The primary fundraising activity of the branch is the annual book sale held in June at Brevard College's Boshamer Gym. For anyone wanting to make a large book donation at any time of year, contact Kristen Alpert at (203) 913-6935 to have AAUW members come by and pick up your books or arrange a time when you can come by and drop off your books at AAUW's Book Nook facility downtown. Members will come out and unload your books without you needing to carry them anywhere.

The yellow book collection boxes go out to area businesses in February.

More information about the branch and its many activities are available at For membership information, contact Jeannie Bernard at (884-9179) or at Fran Rasmussen (571-213-3635).


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