Civic Stewardship -- Boston Action-Learning Lab


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Proposal: Launch a community-based action-learning lab to accelerate innovation and application of systematic approaches to civic stewardship.

Approach: Applies systematic methods in the civic context that are now used in successful organizations to increase local ownership for ambitious goals, and to foster innovation and collaboration for achieving them.

Opportunity: Spur progress on our most persistent and costly socio-economic and environmental problems by cultivating a national network of neighborhood-based civic stewardship initiatives. A critical mass of neighborhood efforts in 300 U.S. cities can save hundreds of billions in annual government costs, while fostering “collective efficacy” and wellbeing in communities nationwide.

Why now: Recent developments in measures (spurred by the proliferation of “public data”), social media (e.g., neighborhood websites), and monetization (e.g., social impact bonds) are “disruptive innovations” that create ripe opportunities for quantum change.

  • Hi Bill,

    One recent result here in Belfast is the launch of a 'mini-hub' in a vacant storefront in anticipation of a much larger project that will operate after a new building is constructed in several years' time. This meanwhile use of the storefront will reinforce the process of civic stewardship which has been recognised as necessary in the masterplanning document.‎
    Our input as the Ministerial Advisory Group for Architecture and the Built Environment for Northern Ireland is being heeded in certain quarters.

    I am pleased to find that four of the environmental government departments here all acknowledge stewardship as well.
    I will find out about progress at the experimental 'mini-hub' and keep you up to date.
    I am planning to attend the Placemaking Leadership Council's conference in Pittsburg around 8th September and would hope to be able to visit Boston before or after that conference. I hope you might be around at that time for a coffee and a chat.

    Kind regards
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  • Hi Bill,
    Great to read that the work is continuing apace. Here in N Ireland we are gaining ground as well. Our government Department of the Environment has just published its new Strategic Planning Policy Statement for consultation. Here is a short extract:
    Civic Stewardship
    3.39 Civic Stewardship is about the active caring for people and places and associated techniques for managing and maintaining the spaces and places. Councils should consider positive ways in which to improve the linkages between good places (design) and the management and maintenance of those spaces (stewardship) for both urban and rural areas.
    Key Documents (readily available by web search)

    Living Places – An Urban Stewardship and Design Guide for Northern Ireland (Draft) (DOE 2013)

    Building on Tradition – A Sustainable Design Guide for the Northern Ireland Countryside (DOE 2012)
    Consultation Question 8
    Supporting Good Design, Positive Place-Making, and Urban and Rural Stewardship
    Do you think that this is an appropriate approach for this core planning principle?
    If no, please provide further information.

    I hope you feel this is a positive step here! I believe it may be small but does begin to open doors to better practice.

    Kind regards

    Arthur Acheson, Belfast
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Civic Stewardship -- Boston Action-Learning Lab

  1. 1. Civic Stewardship: Achieve societal change via vital cities & communities Cities have a large and growing influence on societal outcomes Communities are elemental, catalytic components of cities We can achieve breakthroughs via new forms of community-institution collaboration William M. Snyder – – – Overview
  2. 2. Communities & institutions converge in cities, which lead change worldwide 2008 3:34_ “The age of nations is over: The new urban age has begun.” …get cities right, and we can get the world right…¹ 2 Cities are • 50% of global population, 70% by 2050 • Economic engines: 100 U.S. metro areas produce 70% of GDP; 400 worldwide account for 50% of global GDP • Social change agents • Forcesfor creativity & culture • Nexus of institutions & communities • Networked across nations, spurring shifts worldwide ¹Paraq Khanna, Global Governance Initiative, Foreign Policy, 2010. BenjaminBarber, in “If Mayors Ruled the World” (2013), argues that inter-city networks—suchas the C40 on climate change and Cities for Mobility on transportation—are best positioned to disseminate effective combinations of policies, programs, and practices.
  3. 3. Capable communities are crucial for civic breakthroughs From 1970-2010, trillions in policy-driven investments have not improved targeted results¹ We need greater integration of institutional policies and programs & community practices Integrated solutions call for synergistic partnerships among communities & institutions Influencing factors in proportion² Policy efficacy depends on Practices Importance of practices for results ²For example,anumberofstudiesshowthattheinfluenceofsocio-behavioralfactorsonhealthoutcomesis about 40-50%,with“technical”factorssuchas accesstotreatmentsmuchlower(afterconsidering the additionaleffectsofgenesandtheenvironment);seeRobertWoodJohnsonFoundationreport,2014,pp.4-5. ¹ See illustrativereportsonincomeinequality, drop-outrates,incarceration,homelessness, andhealthcosts. 3
  4. 4. Community strategy: Activate “neighborhood effects” to shift local practices 4 Neighborhood factors shape neighbors’ attitudes & behaviors and affect policies & programs Peer Groups Family InfluenceRole Models Collective EfficacyLocal Organizations Social Norms Social Networks Place IdentityBuilt Environment Norms & Practices Neighborhood Effects Policies & Programs Products & Services ¹In Great AmericanCity: Chicago and the EnduringNeighborhoodEffect, Sampson documents the influence of communities on outcomes such as health and safety, via “collective efficacy” and related factors, 2012). Galster describes a range of social influences—called“neighborhoodeffects”—that drive local outcomes (2010, pp. 2-3). See also Sampson et al. 2002, for review of researchon neighborhoodeffects. Researchon “social determinants of health” cites related factors, such as social isolation, culture, behavioral norms, organization access,and built environment (WHO, 2003). Framingham Heart Study ResearchMilestones (e.g., 1960, 1967, 1978, 2007, 2008) highlight the influential role of social cohorts. See also researchby David R. Williams et al. 2009, on social determinants and health outcomes. ¹
  5. 5. Block stewards support neighbors, organize groups & cultivate community Engage & Inform  Meet with neighbors, build relationships & conduct surveys to learn about their needs and aspirations  Inform residents about services and opportunities, and track outcomes Organize & Innovate  Help residents with shared interests to connect for mutual support, problem solving, and innovation  Support groups to organize local coalitions, organization partnerships, and neighborhood initiatives Cultivate Community  Foster a community mindset and associated norms and practices  Embody an ethic of care and responsiveness, and model neighborliness in action 5 MOMS Partnership Community Mental Health Ambassadors Cease Fire Interrupters Boston Children Thrive Parent Partners Block stewards are funded,trained residentspassionateabout improving community wellbeing¹ ¹Resident engagement leaders (aka “ambassadors,”“champions,” “parent leaders,” “outreach workers,” “promotoras,” and “block captains”) address a variety of issues, including early childhood, maternal mental health, family wellbeing, and public safety.
  6. 6. Enable communities with a platform of civic stewardship capabilities 6 Communities of practice share ideas & practices and influence policy by connecting communities and institutions citywide Social Media provides news, updates & information; facilitates connections & collaboration Funding model provides funds & incentives for local efforts that achieve measurable goals Neighborhood coalitions set goals, supports initiatives, and reports on progress Block stewards collect & share information; connect people; and organize events Shared vision & values for learning, connecting & aligning Knowledge base on outcomes, programs, policies, and practices (health, etc.) Measures of outcomes and influencing factors motivate action and guide solutions Participatory problem-solving groups and “innovation circles” create solutions & lead initiatives ¹For further descriptionand examples, see Appendix slides on stewardshipcapabilities. Civic Stewardship Capabilities¹
  7. 7. Civic stewardship promotes “community-led collective impact” citywide Communities and institutions partner to integrate policies, programs, and practices 7 Media MethodsCoalitions Block Stewards Measures Monetization Communities of PracticeKnowledgeBase Policies Programs Practices Institutional collective impact requires robust community partnerships to achieve outcomes Connected communities accelerate spread of best practices & create critical mass for institutional shifts Scalable platform of civic stewardship capabilities supports collective learning, innovation & action ¹Several sources highlight the importance of community partnershipfor “collective impact”: ArecentarticlefeaturedbytheCollectiveImpactForumasserts:“Collective impact efforts must always have the community in their line of sight” (2015: 14; see also 5-7). And a comprehensive review of place-based initiatives in the U.S. argued for a “nested” approach to integrating institutional policy-making and community engagement: “In a nesting scheme, neighborhoodinitiatives fit together within larger system reforms in a mutually reinforcing way” (Placed-BasedInitiatives in the Context of Public Policy and Markets, E. Hopkins, 2014: 20; blog summary). Issues: Health, Housing, Education, Employment, Local Economy, Safety, Built Environment, etc. Key
  8. 8. Funding model: Partnership generates a virtuous cycle for mutual gains 8 Stewardship increases institutional efficacy while building community capacity Improves Programs & Reduces Costs Provide Programs & Fund Platform Supports via peer groups, social networks, role models, etc. Institutional Providers Community Stewardship Engaged Neighbors Community Wellbeing Communities promote: • Information via surveys, conversations & social media • Participation via outreach, referrals & support • Innovation via feedback, “innovation circles” & trials • Retention by incorporating successful norms & practices • Dissemination by stories, research & peer support
  9. 9. Communities offer an array of fundable stewardship opportunities Health² Employment Education Housing Safety Indicators Asthma • Hypertension • Cancer screening • Diabetes Youth employment •Adult employment •Income levels •Local economy •Early childhood •Kindergarten ready •Third-grade reading •H.S./Collegegrad.rate •Defaults/ Evictions •Displacement •Dilapidation •Energy costs •Violent crime •Property crime •Perceivedsafety •Incarceration Neighborhood Annual Goal (1,500 pop.) Reduce pediatric asthma for 20 kids (of estimated 80 with asthma) Increase youth employment for 20 youth (of about 200 in neighborhood who are seeking employment) Financial benefits of reduced costs • Monetized societal value ~ $750/year/child = ~$15,000 per year (reductionsinmedical costs & lostwork days) Income value ~$15,000/youth; potential long-term societal value ~$200K-500K/youth “Pay for Success” for community stewardship • Funding: $500+/child with reducedasthmaemergencies • Funding: $5,000+/year for neighborhood-wide efforts that increase asthma screening and early treatment rates • Double enrollment in effective youth jobs programs • Increase participation and retention rates • Funding: $1,000+/youth newly trained & employed Opportunities for institutional partner learning & innovation • Increase impact of preventative programs on clinical results via improved design and participation • Identify new program opportunities for screening and early treatment • Improve design of job-application process as well as skill- development and job-training opportunities • Scale approach to neighborhoods citywide; engage broader set of partner institutions across sectors Communities and institutions can identify areas where partners will “pay for success”¹ IllustrativeIllustrative 9 TNT ²See Outline of community health action-researchfor more on framing the funding opportunity and healthcare applications ¹Community entities and business organizationsmay also partner on surveys and market development for mutual gains.
  10. 10. Action-learninglab: TNT neighborhood in Codman Square/Dorchester/Boston • Active neighborhood association for over 15 years • Anchored by a local organization with resident leadership, for information, coordination & advocacy • TNT “Neighbors United” coalition is adopting a civic stewardship approach to move to the next level • Low-income community with associated challenges: crime, drop-outs, illness, evictions, etc. • One of nearly 40 “distressed” census tracts in Boston² • TNT neighborhood demographics • 525 Households, ~1,500 pop. • 75% Black, 20% Hispanic • 30% below poverty line • 30% without H.S. degree • Crime 2x Boston rate (2010) Piloting civic stewardship in a self-identifiedsub-neighborhoodof Codman Square called TNT¹ 10 TNT ²MapshowsBostonneighborhoods(inblue)thathaveexperiencedhigh“distress”levels(poverty,crime,foreclosures,etc.)fordecades(J.Jennings,2009, p.4) ¹Pilot is in the Talbot-NorfolkTriangle Neighborhood
  11. 11. Neighborhood stewardship in action: TNT youth employment pilot 11 Youth leaders surveyed the neighborhood to find ways to increaseyouth employment Youth surveyed 150 peers in the neighbor- hood to identify gaps & opportunities Youth participated in “innovation circles” to improve programs & design new ones Opportunity: Many youth seeking employment are unaware of jobs programs or have trouble completing the application process Youth Hub response • Started a campaign to raise awareness about jobs • Organized job fair to help youth to fill out apps. & meet employers • Leading a peer-group job readiness course to build skills • Building a youth jobs website and social media tools • Cultivating a “youth membership community” • Surveying employers to identify their needs and capacity Q #71: Commenton your experience with the following youth employment agencies: ABCD / SummerWorks I’ve never heardof this I’ve heard of it, but never applied I’ve been placed in more than 1 job I’ve been placed in a jobI’ve applied, but never been placed in a job 10 20 30 40% 0 Youth designed and organized a job fair to connect peers & employers for new jobs See also descriptions of Youth Hub in a brief overview and a conference poster.
  12. 12. The civic stewardship initiative (CSI) scales along multiple dimensions 12 Expanding from focus on youth employment to a broader scope of civic issues Connecting with other neighborhoods in areas of shared interest (e.g., employment & health) Building capabilities and institutional partnerships for a citywide stewardship platform ___________
  13. 13. Local gathering places can scaffold civic stewardship 13
  14. 14. Facebook interactions across cities worldwide (source) 14 “By making communities of our cities we take a giant stride toward world community, and in the end lasting peace will come when…world community has been achieved.” -- Lawrence Hayworth, The Good City Core values Learning about the issues and innovative solutions…even when these challenge long-held basic assumptions Connecting with diverse others to build trust and reciprocity…even those with conflicting interestsandideologies Aligning to shared goals for the greater good…even when this involves personal change andlocalaccommodation Vision: Social movement for thriving communities & vital cities