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Partnering with Local Governments: Why so Tough?

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Ed Everett, community engagement coach, Ed Everett Consulting

In today’s environment the public and government most often are at odds with each other. However, the current economic realities combined with the complex problems we face means separation between citizens, business and local government is a major liability for all players. Partnering between the public, business and local government is not an “interesting concept” or “nice vision,” but rather an essential reality we must achieve. In this session you will learn:

* Why this separation between citizens and local government exits
* How the public and government contribute to this separation
* A different model for partnering
* What true civic engagement really means
* Why community building is more important now than ever

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Partnering with Local Governments: Why so Tough?

  1. 1. Partnering with Your Local Government Why so Tough? Craiglist Boot Camp 2011 Ed Everett: Senior Fellow Davenport Institute
  2. 2. Why the Separation? <ul><li>Mistrust of govt. </li></ul><ul><li>Anti-govt. mood </li></ul><ul><li>Local govt. has pretended to engage the public without letting go of control </li></ul><ul><li>Public acts as Customers not Citizens </li></ul><ul><li>No feeling of community </li></ul><ul><li>Business and local govt. tend to ignore each other </li></ul>
  3. 3. How all Parties Contribute to this Separation. <ul><li>Staff and electeds have a negative attitude of the public and some businesses. </li></ul><ul><li>Public has negative attitude of govt. </li></ul><ul><li>Business has negative attitude of govt. </li></ul><ul><li>What psychologists tell us about changing our behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>We are a siloed society. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Public acts as Customers vs.. Citizens
  5. 5. <ul><li>A Quick Historical Overview: Citizen/Gov’t Relations </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>“ Customer” Characteristics: </li></ul><ul><li>Give away power </li></ul><ul><li>Allow others to define their needs </li></ul><ul><li>Consumers not creators or problem solvers </li></ul><ul><li>Think in terms of “I”/”me” </li></ul><ul><li>Entitlement mentality </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>“ Citizen” Characteristics: </li></ul><ul><li>Accountable </li></ul><ul><li>Committed </li></ul><ul><li>Determines the future </li></ul><ul><li>Exercises ownership </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledges change through citizens </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Citizens can and will partner. </li></ul><ul><li>Customers are unable and won’t partner. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Govt. not Understanding Its True Role
  10. 10. Old Model “Stakeholders”
  11. 11. Partnership Model
  12. 12. No Feeling of Community
  13. 13. <ul><li>It is much easier to form partnerships between citizens and government when citizens feel part of a community. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Community is defined by 4 feelings : <ul><li>Belonging </li></ul><ul><li>Pride </li></ul><ul><li>Inclusion </li></ul><ul><li>Not being alone </li></ul>
  15. 15. What do we actually know about community? <ul><ul><ul><li>A Decrease in: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Membership of service clubs, PTA’S, unions, national organizations and church attendance </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Volunteer hours (may be increasing) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Whether we think we can trust people </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>At tending a public meeting or School Affairs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Having friends over to your house for dinner or going to friends house for dinner </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>*Robert Putman - Bowling Alone </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Past National Surveys Tell Us <ul><ul><ul><li>Most of us in society don’t know 50% of our neighbors. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>75% of us think “b r eakdown in community” and “s e lfishness” are “s e rious” and “e x tremely serious” problems. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>80% of us believe that there should be more emphasis on community even if that put more demands on us. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>What psychologists, anthropologists and sociologists tell us about Community. </li></ul>
  18. 18. The Impact of Community on Important Social Issues <ul><li>Putman ranked all states in term of Social Capital or Community </li></ul><ul><li>He compared all states in 4 important policy areas: education, crime, physical and mental health </li></ul><ul><li>What did he find? </li></ul>
  19. 19. As Community Increased: <ul><li>Educational performance increases </li></ul><ul><li>Crime decreases </li></ul><ul><li>Physical Health increases </li></ul><ul><li>Mental Health increases </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><ul><li>When Was the Last Time Society Experienced a Strong Sense of Community ? </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Civic Engagement a Way Out of the Wilderness
  22. 22. <ul><li>Civic Engagement is not … </li></ul><ul><li>Selling the public on… </li></ul><ul><li>Getting votes for… </li></ul><ul><li>Convincing the public to…. </li></ul><ul><li>A process where staff/non-profit controls outcome </li></ul><ul><li>A meeting to complain/find fault with… </li></ul><ul><li>A process of lobbying council meetings </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>The Essences of Public Engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Citizens talking to citizens </li></ul><ul><li>Staff or elected posing the right questions </li></ul><ul><li>Staff and elected officials listening and learning not talking </li></ul><ul><li>NOT </li></ul><ul><li>Staff or elected officials answering questions in the front of the room. </li></ul><ul><li>Public naming, blaming and finding fault. </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>Why Civic Engagement is Tough… </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Distrust: Experience with “old” model. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>New set of skills and leadership </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Behavioral and attitudinal changes: By Govt. and Citizens (Citizens vs.. Customers) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Perceived loss of control </li></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>Civic Engagement is a SPECTRUM and Hierarchy of Processes… </li></ul>Any process you choose contains some aspects of the lower level processes Empower> Collaborate > Incorporate> Consult> Inform > (Increasing the level of engagement and influence)
  26. 26. <ul><li>Definition of Stages… </li></ul>Inform: Providing info only to the public Consult: Asking the public for input Incorporate: Involving the public in developing alternatives or “forced choices” Collaborating: Work with public to frame the issue as well as develop alternatives to be discussed Empower: Asking public to make the decision /solve the problem within council guidelines
  27. 27. So Now What <ul><li>The we the public have to let go of acting like customers </li></ul><ul><li>Govt. must let go of acting like they can solve all problems </li></ul><ul><li>The public must take responsibility </li></ul><ul><li>Govt. must stop being so controlling </li></ul><ul><li>Both must partner with each other </li></ul>
  28. 28. Today’s Problems Require Partnerships <ul><li>Child Obesity </li></ul><ul><li>Safety </li></ul><ul><li>Education </li></ul><ul><li>Homeliness </li></ul><ul><li>Land Use/Development </li></ul><ul><li>Balancing the budget </li></ul>
  29. 29. Q and A. Reactions?

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