Civic urges

Today, my friend Nadja Pass and I are launching the first part of our project “Borgerlyst”.

Borgerlyst logo

The word Borgerlyst is a Danish portmanteau of Nadja’s invention. It consists of the two words Borger (meaning citizen) and Lyst (roughly meaning lust, urge, delight, inclination). In short, a sort of civic urge. It is meant as a sort of play on the phrase ‘civic duty’. Whereas civic duty is all the obligations, rules and expectations society forces upon you, civic urge is something like the opposite.

It is the feeling that you get when you feel a positive connection to the society around you. It can both be a sense of privilige for being able to take part and act in democratic processes, but more often it comes across as a sense of positive indignation. Every time you experience something in your life that also affects others in the same way, and you think “this could be a whole lot better”, you’re feeling that positive indignation, a civic urge to improve the world around you for the benefit of all. And when you succeed in realising such improvements, you will feel a civic delight.

Borgerlyst as a project focuses on building greater awareness around such civic urges, and make it easier for us as citizens to connect with others who share our civic urges and initiate projects to realise our civic urges. We hope that by building a positive framing around such civic engagement and participation, people will be more likely to take positive action together, rather than resorting to skeptical complaining or cynical blame games whenever they come across something in need of improvement.

A fundamental idea behind Borgerlyst is the notion that neither democracy nor society will ever be perfected, but is in a state of continuous development. It is in beta. That is to say: We have certain structures and procedures that generally work but there is still plenty of room for improvement. It is an acceptable error state that depends on our being present and engaged. And the drive that keeps us engaged in this way is our civic urge.

Today, we launched our Facebook page and in the coming month, we’ll launch our website at as well. The whole project is focused on Denmark and will be in Danish, but we’d be most happy if the project can be an inspiration for similar initiatives elsewhere. If you’re curious to learn more, let me know.

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