St Paul: Pop Up Civic Engagement

St. Paul, MN is bringing “city hall to the people” with a pop-up van, swapping ice-pops for locals’ opinions:

Last year, the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, held countless planning meetings in church basements and community centers across town. A couple hundred people showed up.

The city also held pop-up meetings out of a van parked at busy intersections — and spoke to over a thousand people, most of whom had never before been to a city meeting.

“City artist” Amanda Lovelee came up with the idea, partly out of frustration and partly based on self-reflection:

Lovelee was working with a landscape architect to design a more compelling presentation on a playground redesign. “I was like, ‘I’m going to blow their socks off,’” Lovelee says. “So we have our first meeting, and it’s in the basement of a nursing home and it’s at 7 p.m. And I think, like, seven or eight people showed up.” Thus was Lovelee’s introduction to the world of public meeting participation — or non-participation, as is often the case.

Lovelee and other city staff were excited to hear from residents who don’t make typical city hall meetings, broadening the range of input. Read Rachel Kaufman’s fun story at Next City here.

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


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