Building civic infrastructure - NMIFC keynote


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Slides on why public engagement is being done, what kinds of engagement are happening, and how we can do it better - by building stronger civic infrastructure at the local level.

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  • Sometimes this means action by citizens that is seeded by gov’t with small grants
  • Refer to Using Online Tools guide
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  • Building civic infrastructure - NMIFC keynote

    1. 1. Building Civic Infrastructure: Engaging residents in more effective, sustainable waysNew Mexico Infrastructure Finance Conference Taos, New Mexico October 25, 2012
    2. 2. The Deliberative Democracy Consortium
    3. 3. Slides available Guides:
    4. 4. “What drove me to try planned, structured public engagement was my awful experience withunplanned, unstructured public engagement.” ─ John Nalbandian, former mayor, Lawrence, KS
    5. 5. Three minutes at the microphoneRetrieved from, July 27, 2012
    6. 6. Less buy-in = less money
    7. 7. The context:How have citizens* changed?  More educated  More skeptical – different attitudes toward authority  Have less time to spare  Better able to find resources, allies, informatio n * “citizens” = residents, people
    8. 8. The context: Families with young children Have the most at stake in community success More motivation to engage, but even less time Want to engage in community, not just politics
    9. 9. The context: Increased use of the Internet
    10. 10. Successful tactic: Proactive recruitment Map community networks; Involve leaders of those networks; „Who is least likely to participate?‟ Use online as well as f2f connections; Follow up!
    11. 11. Successful tactic: Small-group processes  No more than 12 people per group;  Facilitator who is impartial (doesn‟t give opinions);  Start with people describing their experiences;  Lay out options;  Help people plan for action.
    12. 12. Successful tactic: Framing an issue Give people the information they need, in ways they can use it Lays out several options or views (including ones you don‟t agree with) Trust them to make good decisions
    13. 13. Successful tactic: Many levels of action
    14. 14. Successful tactic: Online toolsParticularly good for:  Providing background information  Data gathering by citizens  Generating and ranking ideas  Helping people visualize options  Maintaining connections over time
    15. 15. (2) questions or comments?
    16. 16. In other (fewer) words, the key success factors are: Diverse critical mass Structured Deliberative Action-oriented Online and f2f
    17. 17. This work challenges the thinking of:Progressives Conservatives Experts don‟t make  Electeds don‟t make all decisions all decisions Forces gov‟t to be  Raises perceptions of more accountable gov‟t Gov‟t not enough to  Free market not solve problems enough
    18. 18. Strengths of quality public engagementGood for: Making policy decisions, plans Catalyzing citizen action Building trust Fostering new leadership
    19. 19. Limitations of quality public engagement (as we practice it today) Lots of work for temporary gain Inefficient – every organization on its own Community moves back to „politics as usual‟ „Engagers‟ set the agenda, not the „engaged‟ Limited impact on equity Trust, relationships fade Laws on participation out of step with practices
    20. 20. New model ordinance on public participationAvailable at www.deliberative-democracy.netDeveloped as a collaboration of:
    21. 21. What is civic infrastructure?The regularopportunities, activities, and arenasthat allow people to connect witheach other, solve problems, makedecisions, and be part of acommunity.
    22. 22. Building blocks for civic infrastructure:
    23. 23. Building block:Helpingneighborhood andschool groupsbecome more- effective- inclusive- participatory
    24. 24. Building block: Hyperlocal online forums  More sustained  Larger, more diverse numbers of people  Easier for „engagers‟ – recruitment doesn‟t have to start from scratch  More open to ideas from the „engaged‟
    25. 25. Building block: Youth leadership
    26. 26. Don’t forget: Fun “Sometimes you need ameeting that is also a party.Sometimes you need a party that is also a meeting.” ─ Gloria Rubio-Cortès, National Civic League
    27. 27. Questions or comments?
    28. 28. “Portsmouth Listens” Portsmouth, NH Ongoing process since 2000 Several hundred participants each time Addressed a number of major policy decisions: bullying in schools, school redistricting, city‟s master plan, balancing city budget, whether to build new middle school
    29. 29. Jane Addams School for Democracy West Side of St. Paul, MN 50-200 people in “neighborhood learning circles” every month since 1998 Involves recent Hmong, Latino, Somali immigrants Young people involved in circles and other activities Cultural exchanges - food, crafts, storytelling Has resulted in new projects, initiatives, festivals, and a change in INS policy
    30. 30. Participatory Budgeting in Brazilian cities Commitment from gov‟t to adopt budget; Wide range of ways to be involved; A carnival atmosphere; Started small, now huge – 60,000+ people
    31. 31. “Kuna Alliance for a Cohesive Community Team” Kuna, ID Recurring input-gathering process, used on all major decisions Organized by Kuna Alliance for a Cohesive Team (Kuna ACT), in collaboration with local government Issues include: school funding, downtown development, planning and growth 500 participants annually (city of 6,000)
    32. 32. “Kuna Alliance for a Cohesive Community Team” Kuna, IDOutcomes: New comprehensive plan Passage of school bond issue Improvements made to downtown New strategy to market community as hub for “Birds of Prey” area
    33. 33. Building civic infrastructure: Is relatively inexpensive (mainly political, not financial capital) Is a cross-sector job (not just government) Has other economic benefits
    34. 34. Resources••••••• On Facebook: “Deliberative Democracy Consortium” group page• The Next Form of Democracy
    35. 35. Slides available Guides:
    36. 36. Why build stronger civic infrastructure?1. Make engagement easier, more efficient2. Build trust3. Give residents more control of the agenda4. Better address inequities5. Increase community attachment and economic growth6. Increase residents‟ sense of legitimacy and “public happiness”
    37. 37. What is your vision for civic infrastructure?