Civic Lab Online

Civic Lab Online provides information on issues facing our community for you to explore. Take a look at thought-provoking materials for teens and adults that allow us to engage in open conversation and grow together as a community. For each online topic, you can discuss what you’ve learned and questions you still have in the comments section of the blog post for that topic.

Before the Civic Lab was online it was in the library. You may be familiar with the in-person, interactive Civic Lab at North Spokane Library that began in April 2019 and ran through March 2020. We’ve added the previous in-person topics below and included links so you can download those hand-outs to explore those Civic Lab topics as well.

The in-person Civic Lab started back up at North Spokane Library in 2022. You can stop by, see content about the current topic, and share your thoughts at the lab’s display.

Current Topic

Spokane’s Recycling

April 2022

Residents in Spokane have been recycling for decades. Even so, you may wonder how does recycling work here? And how are the changes in Washington state’s approach to recycling going to affect Spokane? View the information on this topic in the blog post Civic Lab Online: Spokane’s Recycling.

Downloadable Documents

Past Topics

The Great Resignation

February 2022

“Now hiring” and “Help wanted” signs are posted at retailers all over town. Labor shortages are extending to many industries. People may wonder: “How many have quit their jobs? And what are those people doing now?“ View the information on this topic in the blog post Civic Lab Online: The Great Resignation.

Downloadable Documents

The Land Back Movement

November 2021

The nationwide efforts of tribes to regain native homelands have been making headlines for the past few years. Where did this resurgence come from, and what could it mean for public lands, the environment, and indigenous people if it succeeds? View the information on this topic in the blog post Civic Lab Online: The Land Back Movement.

Downloadable Documents

Invisible Illnesses & Disabilities

October 2021

An increasing number of Americans have been and continue to be diagnosed with conditions that can’t be seen by the naked eye. How do we create a society that provides access to people with debilitating medical conditions? View the information on this topic in the blog post Civic Lab Online: Invisible Illnesses & Disabilities.

Downloadable Documents

What is Critical Race Theory?

August–September 2021

Critical race theory has generated a lot of buzz recently. Schools are trying to puzzle out what it is. Legislation to keep it out of public schools is making headlines. Disagreements have erupted across party lines about how to right past wrongs. So, what is critical race theory and why is it so controversial? View the information on this topic in the blog post Civic Lab Online: What is Critical Race Theory?

Downloadable Documents

What is HIPAA?

July 2021

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects our privacy when it comes to personal health issues. You may be wondering what HIPAA covers and what organizations must abide by HIPAA. Here are some fast facts about HIPAA to provide some answers and help you dig even deeper into this act. View the information on this topic in the blog post Civic Lab Online: What is HIPAA?

Downloadable Documents

What is Pride Month?

June 2021

Thousands of people now turn out for Spokane’s Pride Month celebration, but how did it begin? Why is it in June? How does the history of LGBT people in Spokane compare to elsewhere in the nation? View the information on this topic in the blog post Civic Lab Online: What is Pride Month?

Downloadable Documents

The Raise the Wage Act

May 2021

Increasing the minimum wage has been a topic of discussion in the news due, in part, to President Biden’s support in recent legislation. What would change if we changed minimum wage? What are the pros and cons of raising the minimum wage? View the information on this topic in the blog post Civic Lab Online: The Raise the Wage Act.

Downloadable Documents

Water Conservation & Gardening

April 2021

While many major factors affect our environment, small home gardens have an important place in our ecology. In this Civic Lab Online, we provide some tips for gardeners to increase their green thumbprint while gardening, some ways to reduce the amount of water used for yards, a DIY guide for creating your own rain barrel, and more ideas to increase water conservation efforts in your home and yard. View the information on this topic in the blog post Civic Lab Online: Water Conservation & Gardening

Downloadable Documents

What is the Digital Divide?

March 2021

Our nation and our world have changed significantly in the past 30 years. Has access (or lack of access) to the internet made the divide between rich and poor, educated and uneducated, empowered and disadvantaged even worse? View the information on this topic in the blog post Civic Lab Online: What is the Digital Divide?

Downloadable Documents

What is Impeachment?

February 2021

The news of the second impeachment of President Donald Trump has resulted in much news coverage about the possible results. Here’s what we know about the process and history of impeachment in the United States. View the information on this topic in the blog post Civic Lab Online: What is impeachment?

Downloadable Documents

The Two-Party Political System

January 2021

The United States has had a long history with the two-party political system. Our political system has adapted over time, and there are pros and cons to the two-party system we have today. View the information on this topic in the blog post Civic Lab Online: The Two-Party Political System.

Downloadable Documents

What we know about the COVID-19 Pandemic

November 2020

There are many things we don’t yet know about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the disease that has caused a worldwide pandemic. Scientists, researchers, and medical professionals continue to look for answers about how the virus will behave seasonally, how to create a working vaccine, and how long the virus remains intact in certain environments. Here we provide facts on what we do know about the virus so far, including how it spread across the world and what the science is behind keeping ourselves safe. View the information on this topic in the blog post Civic Lab Online: What we know about the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Downloadable Documents

She Was There

March 2020

We celebrate Women’s History Month by showcasing accomplishments of women in history that have been mostly overshadowed or forgotten.

Downloadable Documents

Envisioning Our Future During Black History Month

February 2020

How can our region’s black history inform and help reform our future policies and attitudes? What should our city, state, and nation do to make sure everyone has equal opportunities?

Downloadable Documents

What is the Electoral College?

January 2020

How does the Electoral College work, and why was it created? Should it be improved or abandoned, or has it worked as intended since its creation over 100 years ago?

Downloadable Documents

Let’s Talk about Managing Stress, Fighting Depression, & Preventing Suicide

December 2019

The holidays can be a particularly difficult time to reduce stress and fight depression. We share strategies and resources that can help. Share your ideas to help others.

Downloadable Documents

Nuclear Waste & Power

November 2019

Washington state stores the largest amount of high-level nuclear waste of any state in the nation. What do we need to consider to responsibly house, contain, and dispose of nuclear waste?

Downloadable Documents

Voting Rights

October 2019

Who has the right to vote, and when do citizens forfeit that right? How long have different groups had the right to vote?

Downloadable Documents

What & How We Eat

September 2019

We all need to eat to survive. Beyond survival, what other considerations should we give to what and how we eat? Explore resources and share your thoughts about locally grown food and imported and packaged foods and their impact on us as individuals and on our community.

Downloadable Documents

Facts, Thoughts & Beliefs in Science

August 2019

We take a look at the scientific method versus others for determining scientific evidence. What are the differences in thought and belief when it comes to science? Explore resources and share your thoughts about science and where it is heading.

Downloadable Documents

Space Force

July 2019

What do we need to consider before having a military force in space? Explore resources and share your thoughts about militarization beyond our planet.

Downloadable Documents

The Final Frontier

June 2019

When we think about space travel, we often focus on the science. What about space laws and ownership of space? Explore resources and share your thoughts on who owns space as we venture farther into our universe.

Downloadable Documents


May 2019

What are the different types of poverty we see in developing nations vs. our own neighborhoods? What does it look like in Spokane to live below the poverty line, and what can we do about it? We’ll discuss the different ways that poverty affects our world and our city.

Downloadable Documents

Who are Refugees?

April 2019

Immigration continues to be a topic often discussed and debated in our country, but how many people know the difference between a stateless person, an undocumented immigrant, a refugee, and an asylum seeker? We’ll add some clarity to who the different displaced groups in our world are, with a focus on where refugees come from and what the rules and processes are for refugees that enter the United States.

Downloadable Documents