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.

New to Civic Engagement? Check out our foundational documents »

Youth Voter Engagement

Do you know of a university looking for ways to encourage young voters? Alan Solomont, Dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University has some ideas. In a blog post under Huffpost Politics, Solomont shares with readers the importance of caring about young voters, advice on getting youth to participate, information on what’s important for youth, and strategies on how college and universities can help engagement efforts:

At the University of Houston-Downtown, the student government organized a “Walk 2 Vote“ initiative in 2012 and 2014. Creating the “buzz” attracted students and local youth. They are now trying to replicate this on other campuses. . .

The fact is that voting is habit-forming and is often a gateway to other forms of civic engagement. At a time when young people face enormous challenges – crushing student debt, unemployment and mass incarceration – supporting them to vote will help raise a new generation of citizens who actively engage in our democracy.

You can read more here

Contributor: Brian Stewart, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’17

Choosing your tools of engagement

While there can be problems with viewing government as a business, but there are also lessons government can learn from business.  One of these is the importance of using the right tools to communicate, engage, and analyze your customer base. In an article posted on business2community.com, Wim Stoop provides readers with advice on finding the right tool for analyzing communities, and provides insights on the following tools: Individual Insights, Community Manager Measures, ROI Input, and Sentimental Value.

“Your various audiences have varying expectations and needs for your community insights. The same community should be looked at through different lenses using different “tools” because no single tool does it all. A solid measurement strategy, coupled with useful reports, database analytics and rich APIs for data export, is the best way map your evidence to key measurement areas. With these tools, you have the information at your fingertips to truly measure community health and adoption, perceived value and ultimately, business value.”

To read more click here.

Contributor: Brian Stewart, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’17. 


Planning Process Drama (not that kind)

Plays are typically more fun than your average town meeting, even if they’re not Broadway quality. That’s the theory behind Lisa Jo Epstein’s project in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, where she is working with a local development corporation and a theater group that she directs, Just Act. Designed to lay groundwork for “Philadelphia2035,” a major upcoming planning effort, the project combines hard data with the human element of storytelling and drama:

Faced with the double whammy of disinvestment and powerful institutions on its borders with agendas of their own, several groups of African-American activists in West Philadelphia’s Mantua neighborhood in the 1970s adopted a strategy designed to put them at the center of the conversation over the neighborhood’s future direction. The motto they adopted: “Plan or be planned for.”

One way a community can plan the future before the planners do is to understand its past. And in most communities, that past is contained not so much in the brick-and-mortar structures themselves but in the stories behind them — the people who built and lived in them, the institutions they housed and still house today, and the connections the people who know (about) them have with others in the neighborhood.

Learn more from Sandy Smith at Next City here.

Contributor: Ben Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’16.