A Police Ride Along: Building Empathy and Accepting Nuance

Building empathy is one of the most difficult tasks communities face. Simply put, we’re often not programmed for it. Humans have spent the vast majority of their millennia here on Earth in tightly-knit communities where social norms and even survival frequently depended on us making quick judgments about those around us, in order to sort individuals into our “in-group” or an “out-group”. This “tribalism”, however, is not simply based on racial, ethnic, religious, or linguistic divides. It also plays out in our (relatively) much more diverse and integrated modern-day communities. And few issues in urban American communities divide us more than the fault lines around law enforcement. To some, police and sheriff’s officials embody the best values of our communities: security, order, and community involvement. To others, they represent the remnants of our country’s centuries-long infatuation with racial oppression.

Continue Reading

Savannah’s story of community empowerment: Nice Video on Asset-Based Community Development in Action

While Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) has been around awhile, I think the stories that illustrate the concepts and structure are very important.

I just ran across this nice video from Savannah’s experience with two neighborhoods. https://youtu.be/6rbRAQLbeRM

In under twelve minutes, the story covers from the 1970s to today: the decline and revitalization of two neighborhoods. Most importantly the story is mainly about the members of two neighborhoods in Savannah, with less attention to what city employees did or did not do.

Continue Reading

Are we overly focused on social media?

Many of us were following the Facebook hearings this April in which nearly 100 members of Congress questioned Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The hearings came after news broke that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign, accessed information from as many as 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge.

While the outrage focused primarily on consumer privacy, it also elevated interest in Facebook’s impact on civil discourse and domestic institutions around the world. We are learning more about the addictive nature and manipulative strategies of Facebook and other social media. Continue Reading

Fayetteville City Council: Self interest or effective representation?

Fayetteville has a couple of large projects planned and moving forward mostly in District 2 for the downtown revitalization. In particular, the city plans to develop a baseball stadium to house a minor league team associated with the Houston Astros. Additionally, the seven-story, dilapidated, eyesore, The Prince Charles Hotel, has been purchased and is being restored.

Continue Reading

Internships in City Government: Reflections on Civic Learning

During the Fall of 2017 I had the opportunity to spend the semester in Washington DC with 16 Wake Forest students.  I taught two political science courses on law and policy, and the students interned four days a week with various governmental and non-governmental organizations.

In an earlier post I wrote about the potential for internships to provide important civic lessons as well as providing the development of professional skills and experience. Two of the students worked for Councilwoman Mary Cheh on the DC Council,  giving them the unique opportunity to experience local government in the unusual context of the national capital.  I asked Abigail McLean (pictured above) one of those students, to reflect on her experience.  Abigail, who will graduate in May, was recently hired by Councilwoman Cheh’s office to serve on her staff.

  What interested you about this particular internship opportunity?

Abigail: The year before my internship at the D.C. Council, I interned for a congressional office on Capitol Hill. I really enjoyed this experience, but one of the things that frustrated me was the speed at which legislation moved. I could spend several days working on a project, only to never see or hear anything about it again because it simply takes so long to move legislation through. Since the D.C. Council is a smaller governing body in charge of a much smaller jurisdiction, I knew that I could contribute more to the legislative process and experience more firsthand.

Continue Reading

Citizens’ Academies: Low-cost, High-impact Community Engagement

The City of Concord has one of the longest-running citizens’ academies in North Carolina, or even the United States, in its Concord 101 program, which has completed 16 sessions and reached over 300 participants. Since inception, the program has largely maintained the original format, yet adapted to expand both the content covered and the number of participants involved each year. Continue Reading

Empowering Our Community with Good Health: The Mustard Seed Story

Gloria was worried about her blood pressure but with no insurance she didn’t know where to turn. Her neighbor said, “Go to Mustard Seed Community Health” just 3 blocks from her apartment. Dr. Mulberry listened to her and explained the benefits of nutrition and physical activity so now Gloria’s blood pressure is manageable.

Continue Reading

Dialogue through Simplicity: How Government Can Make Complicated Topics Easier to Grasp

Graphic created by Wake County staff and is consistent with their efforts to communicate simply with their public.

Our understanding of government is shaped by how frequently we interact with it and how much we understand its role in society. This time of year, we’re keenly aware of what we pay in taxes but don’t always think about other government interactions. There’s a good chance public sector employees collect your trash and recycling; the street you took to work today is owned and operated by a government department; and in many places public employees recruit new jobs to the community.

Continue Reading

ACE Blog Draft

This blog post was written by Becca Baas, learn more about Becca below. 

Far too often we hear about abused or neglected children – sometimes it’s the kind of story that makes you cringe, other times it breaks your heart. I worked at Onslow County Partnership for Children (OCPC), where reducing childhood abuse and neglect has always been an important part of our mission. Now, a new movement in prevention is changing our perspective on prevention. We are developing a broader approach to address the experiences and circumstances associated with abuse and neglect.

Continue Reading