Improving Engagement for Cities as Platforms

If we think of the city as platform for healthy communities and vibrant culture, it’s more important than ever that our citizens actually participate. As it’s #IndependenceDay (new NM-shot sequel coming fairly soon), it seems like a good time to consider some of the features we in America got mostly right with our startup about 240 years ago, particularly public engagement.

Luckily, the good folks w/ Code for America (and many others) have been doing great work in this regard. Here’s their proposed

Effective Civic Engagement Standard:
We think there are five key elements of an effective, 21st century civic engagement strategy for local government. They are:
Reach: Defining the constituency you are trying to reach, with an emphasis on identifying those whose voices aren’t already represented.
Information: Providing relevant information that is easy to find and understand, and speak with an authentic voice.
Channels: Making use of a diversity of spaces, both online and offline, that meet people where they are.
Productive Actions: Identifying clear, concrete and meaningful actions residents can take to reach desired outcomes.
Feedback Loops: Making sure the public understands the productive impact of their participation, and that their actions have value.

You can also see Code for America Director of Community Organizing Catherine Bracy talking on the topic at the recent #PDF15 here:

Too often we focus on shiny new tools we could make while ignoring the principles that would most help us involve a wider range of voices and experiences. Thinking about ways to #BuildWith, “Meet people where they are” and get their input “when the issue at hand is most tangible to them” feels like a great way to spend part of this weekend.

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