inCommon is the Participatory Governance Blog of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy. Here you will find information about the latest resources, studies, programs and discussions about Civic Engagement in California, throughout the nation and around the world. We hope that the case studies and technological innovations discussed here will spark new reflection and conversation regarding both what legitimate civic engagement looks like and why it is important for good governance, particularly at the local level.
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When most people think about topics that will encourage young people to become more civically engaged, municipal budgets probably isn’t the first topic that springs to mind. But Celine Su, the Marilyn J. Gittel chair of urban studies at the CUNY Graduate Center, says that Participatory Budgeting is one way to get young people more engaged.
She identifies four motivations for youth engagement:
- When peers contact them, more young people get involved.
- Young people learned new skills and gained confidence along the way.
- Young people will get involved if it’s fun. Doing so helps overcome distrust of authority.
- Participatory budgeting has room to grow.
You can read the full article at Washington Post, here.
Contributor: Ariana Romero, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’18.
When it comes to civic and public engagement, political analysts and policy leaders use both data and best practices to increase strategies for engagement efforts. In a recent studio interview with Sirius Xm in Washington, D.C., Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald provides answers on veteran engagement efforts. According to a recent report on veterans’ civic engagement, more veterans vote, volunteer and attend public meetings than non veterans.
Writer Nikki Wentling with Stars And Stripes news published an article following the interview:
According to the report, called the “Veterans Civic Health Index,” 73.8 percent of veterans reported they vote in local elections compared to 57.2 percent of civilians. The report, which used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, was co-sponsored by Got Your 6, a veterans advocacy group that works to challenge a negative notion of “broken” veterans.
“That’s a huge margin,” said Julia Tivald, with Got Your 6. “That data is particularly important to us this year, as we try to engage everyone in the election cycle. We can use the statistic to challenge people to meet veterans’ level of engagement.”
To read more click here. To read the Veterans Civic Health Index report click here.
Contributor: Brian Stewart, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’17
Who defines your neighborhood boundaries? Lizzie MacWillie, senior design manager at buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, says very often it’s the wrong people:
Three times already this year, local news stations have incorrectly identified a particular Dallas neighborhood, Pleasant Grove, as the scene of violent crimes that actually occurred in other neighborhoods. This is one of several reasons I’ve spent the last year asking Dallas residents to draw maps of their neighborhoods. The effort, launched two years ago by the nonprofit where I work, mirrors similar initiatives across the country, in cities including New York, Chicago and Portland. By crowdsourcing neighborhood boundaries, residents can put themselves on the map in critical ways.
She argues that residents should take control of the “narrative” of their neighborhood, starting with its physical boundaries:
When a map is made, whoever is making it decides what’s in and what’s out. Those decisions can have real consequences. It should be experts making those decisions — and what better neighborhood experts than local residents themselves.
You can read the full op-ed at Next City here.
Contributor: Ben Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy Alumnus, MPP ’16.
Join the Discussion! For the better part of a decade the Davenport Institute has been a proud partner of the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) as a California Civic Health partner. We worked with them to publish the California Civic Health Index (2010), Golden Governance (2012), and several infographic pieces on the state of engagement in California.
NCoC is hosting an open webinar conversation to individuals and organizations interested in learning more about and getting more involved in Civic Health in their home state or community. Next month NCoC will be hosting two webinar conversations: one on July 11 and one on July 14.
You can find out more and register online at the NCoC website here
H/T Benjamin Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy Alumnus, MPP ’16.
What happens when you’ve set up a great process and no one shows up? Susan Fitter Harris goes back to the drawing board on engagement to try to answer this question. She focuses particularly on the environment for the engagement:
Genuinely engaging residents requires more than a community-wide meeting or two. Engagement efforts can fall short for various reasons. Neighbors may not trust that organizing entities have their best interests at heart. A community that’s been “planned to death” and never seen results may be feeling fatigue and the frustration of not being heard. Residents of high-crime communities may be suffering from trauma; for them, engaging may even feel unsafe.
She offers a handful of “top engagement tips,” based on Institute for Comprehensive Community Development fellow Jim Capraro’s thoughts and experience, and a recent meeting of the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program (BJCI), under the Department of Justice:
- Understand what is meaningful to the community.
- Respect the community’s prior experiences.
- Get help navigating cultural barriers.
- Think of the work as relationship building.
You can Read more at the LISC Institute for Comprehensive Community Development website here. For more LISC resources on community development, click here.
Contributor: Benjamin Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy Alumnus, MPP ’16.