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.
In an article published on Governing.com, Contributor Kyle Bozentko makes a credible claim around civic/public engagement as it relates to millennials. In an article titled Local Politics and the Malaise of Millennials he argues:
“…A one-size-fits-all approach to building millennial engagement simply won’t work. Millennials are too diverse. Rather than searching for the silver-bullet app or perfect platform that will attract millennials to civic life en masse, the key to developing millennial engagement stems from the axiom that all politics is local. Getting millennials involved — and keeping them involved — requires new engagement strategies that are tailored both to specific local concerns and to the millennial population in all of its diversity.”
“At a time where people who are 65 years or older are 19 times more likely to vote in local elections than 18 to 34 year olds” Bozentko admits:
“Understanding the complexities shaping voting and civic participation patterns among young residents is daunting. Identifying the problem presents the first challenge: Are people not getting involved because they don’t recognize an entry point? Do they distrust local government and resist involvement? Or do they feel disconnected from the community, as a college student or transplant might, and choose to forego the investment that civic participation often entails.”
For more information, including current initiatives that seek to provide a solution to some of the questions Bozentko raises click here.
Contributor: Brian Stewart, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’17.
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 Squarehere.
Contributor: Benjamin Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’16.
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.
Repairing America’s infrastructure has been a major topic of policy and politicaldiscussion in the last several years. The bulk of that task falls to state and local governments, according to “urbanophile” Aaron Renn. He makes the case that localities should “take ownership” in a new Manhattan Institute report: “Beyond Repair?: America’s Infrastructure Crisis is Local.”
There’s another infrastructure challenge facing cities, and that’s what Jill Blair and Malka Kopell are tackling in this report from the Aspen Institute: “21st Century Civic Infrastructure: Under Construction.”
Like the bridges, tunnels, electricity, sewers, water systems and roads that comprise our physical infrastructure, enabling us to live more relational and economically vibrant lives, a well-constructed civic infrastructure likewise facilitates public problem solving through civic action and participation. If built with intention, civic infrastructure produces platforms on which a sense of shared responsibility can reside and grow; it enables us to communicate with one another more effectively; it helps to manage our differences; and it can help us to develop a shared understanding of what constitutes our common and public good.
Just as cities need to take ownership of their physical infrastructure challenges, they have to own the “civic infrastructure” challenge. And who knows? Maybe the two can go hand-in-hand.
Aaron Renn’s report for the Manhattan Institute is here, and you can check out Blair and Kopell’s proposals for enhanced “collective impact” here. For Blair’s synopsis of the full report, click here.
Contributor: Ben Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’16
When it comes to engaging and Generation Z (those born after 1990s), most engagement experts recognize that technology is a necessity. But Annelise Wunderlich, KQED’s youth participation manager, is seeking to turn this understanding into action. As she puts it in her article published on the KQED blog (Public Media for Northern California):
It’s clear that young people are online – on multiple devices – all the time. But tech savvy doesn’t automatically translate to digital literacy; and many teachers feel intimidated by the task of equipping their students with the 21st century skills they need to become engaged digital citizens. Last weekend at the Teachers 4 Social Justice conference at Mission High in San Francisco, KQED and BAVC partnered to present a workshop called “#Tweet4Change: Students Using Social Media to Challenge the Status Quo.”
In the article, Wunderlich talks about the importance of social media and how it can serve as a vital tool for young people to be engaged and influence social issues around the world. At the workshop she introduced:
Do Now, KQED’s weekly activity that presents students with high-quality media content tied to a question designed to inspire dialogue, debate, and media-making.
For more information about the workshop held, click here. To learn more about Do Now, click here, and for BAVC’s NextGen Program click here.
Contributor: Brian Stewart, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’17