It’s crowded, it’s rowdy, and somebody’s always spoiling for a fight—just another Tuesday evening at your local dive...or town hall. Recently, these old-school sessions have cast off their fusty civics-lesson image and become raucous forums for democracy in action. Taking advantage of the face-to-face time is powerful stuff: In a 2017 report from the Congressional Management Foundation, a nonprofit that studies citizen engagement, 82 percent of congressional staff respondents surveyed said that in-person town halls are an important way lawmakers understand constituents’ views. “I’ve often been surprised by constituents’ perceptions about certain bills,” says California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who is serving her 14th term. “I’m always grateful for the chance to look them in the eye and hear their concerns. Town halls are the clearest and simplest way for people to communicate with their elected officials.”

First things first: Go to, a database that lists public events held by members of Congress around the country, to find a meeting near you. Then gather your friends, prepare a question about your legislator’s position on education cuts, and get ready to raise hell.


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