Q: What does it mean to be an American?


Krist Novoselic: “What it means to be an American is to recognize the positive legacy of the US, and the principles of the country: equality, inclusion, fairness and democracy, and to put those principles first.

That ideal has always been expanding, including more people than when the US was founded.  It’s been growing and our generation can add to it and make it even better.

I was a punk rock dude [bassist for Nirvana]. I didn’t know about democracy, but when Oregon passed an erotic music law against us, even though we were bringing cultural and economic vitality to the state, we became proactive. I recognized barriers to participation and wondered, how do we fix it? I went online and discovered Instant Runoff Voting and proportional voting. I recognized it as an exciting way to repair our democracy.

Having gone through a music revolution with Nirvana I can see the same thing can happen with our democracy, a nonviolent ‘velvet’ revolution.”



Tim Willard: “America is diversity. America is freedom for everyone of every persuasion to live their life however they want, to exercise power over their government. The American ideal is inclusive, not exclusive.”

Mary Rooker: “It means to stand up for the ideals that our country was founded on — freedom and justice. And I think the green party exemplifies it.”
Nathan Bahn: “It means you’re obligated to respect the rights of minorities.”


Jay Waldon: “One good thing is to be in a free society, where all citizens have access to freedom.”


Deanna Stewart: “Having freedoms and rights. But the responsibility to not just take things for granted, but step up to the plate and do what’s required of you. ”

Joe Gillin: “Being open to the principles of life, liberty and opportunity.”


Gemma D’Eustachio: “I guess it means having a lot more rights but also a lot more responsibilities. You have freedom of speech but then also when you say you’re American or from America, there’s a lot more expected of you. Using your freedom to help other people is a responsibility that comes with the rights.”

Courtney Allen: “Sometimes it’s kind of sad to be an American because of the things America does and the way it treats its people and people abroad. We portray ourselves as the greatest country but we don’t treat people fairly as a country. I think we have an opportunity to get better.”

 IM178_Q_DemetCabbar_Silkroad.JPGDemet Cabbar: “I’m not an American unfortunately, but often I ask myself why I’m in this country. When I look at my friends who live in Turkey I don’t think from a financial or social perspective I’m better off. But I like to live hear because of the freedom I get here to experience things and form opinions and express them. And I think being American means making your own choices and you live with the outcomes, but you have the choice.”


Head Roc: “Honest answer?  To me to be American is to be part of a forced amalgamation of many different peoples from all over the world, to be a part of principles and ideals that are not respecting of the rest of the world.
We are forced to go along with the ideology and practices of a minority of people who are in my view bent on supremacy and they force us to take part in actions that disenfranchise the peoples of the world who make up the labor force and defense force of America.

Most Americans don’t know the powers that be don’t have their interests in mind. Once we’re aware of that we can transform America.”


Matt Sullivan: “Of course you’re an American just by living here, but to be a citizen you need to participate in our democratic republic. You’ve got to be informed and participate in our democracy.”

Elaine Sullivan: “You have to question authority and demand accountability of our elected officials, defend the constitution because that’s the basis of our laws.”


Sara Collina: “For me, being an American the most important thing is not simply being tolerant of different viewpoints and different groups but being excited and enthusiastic about forming a community with them. On  9-11 my children were at Rolling Terrace Elementary School and when I saw the classroom I felt profoundly patriotic because of so much very real diversity in the school. It’s exciting and it doesn’t happen everywhere. It’s American to have that much diversity and enthusiasm for it.”