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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San Bernardino: Partnerships for Art

Ernie Garcia, long-time resident of San Bernardino, wants you to know about cultural and civic revival happening there despite the city’s fiscal foibles:

In Southern California, most people know about San Bernardino and its ongoing municipal bankruptcy. Last summer, the L.A. Times called the city a “symbol of the nation’s urban woes.”

But most people don’t know that many of us who live and work in San Bernardino have been collaborating to revive interest in the arts—and rebuild our communities.

Garcia specifically mentions the new San Bernardino Cultural Center opening on Saturday, November 14 as a result of efforts by the local concert association, and other upcoming public art projects:

One of the costs of San Bernardino’s problems has been a loss in space for arts during recent economic hard times. There were no art galleries in town at all, and the arts offerings from California State University, San Bernardino—where I worked for many years, as a professor and dean of education—didn’t always reach beyond the campus. It was hard to watch as the city lost spaces for the visual and performing arts—classes and performance venues and exhibition halls—where people can make art together and share it.

But what’s great about cities is that they are places for connections. San Bernardino—the city I’ve lived in for 30 years and been around my whole life since I was born in Colton—is very much a great city, with more than 213,000 people. And it was clear that the city needed to re-create spaces where people could come together.

Check out the full story at Zócalo Public Square here.

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

Participatory Budgeting in Paradise

There is participatory budgeting in Paradise – Paradise, CA that is:

The Great Recession that forced cuts to staffing and services significantly impacted the Town of Paradise, like many California cities. The town began exploring options in 2014 to increase revenue…

The Institute for Local Government’s (ILG) Public Engagement Program partnered with Paradise on public engagement planning and implementation. Through this effort, the town launched a strategic, outcome-driven resident engagement effort that culminated in three workshops facilitated by ILG. Paradise leaders and staff increased participation at these meetings in three ways. First, they boosted awareness of the meeting by working with local community groups to notify and involve residents. Second, the town increased accessibility by holding the meetings at various times of the day to accommodate people with different schedules. Third, the town built trust by partnering with ILG as a neutral third party to facilitate the workshops.

Read the full story, which appears in the November 2015 issue of Western City, here.

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