Repairing America’s infrastructure has been a major topic of policy and political discussion 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.
Contributor: Ben Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’16