Do Labels Help or Hurt in “Citizen” Participation?

You say SKED-ule, and I say SCHEDJ-ule. Does it matter?  Is  “Citizen” Participation the same as “public” participation? Here’s an exploration of labels and meanings intended, but may not received as intended.

For community engagement (the title of this blog) how you categorize or label people in a particular participation process is important. Words matter because it can create an impression of inclusion or exclusion. Meanings may vary from “you are a user of a government service” to “you and your neighbors are policymakers.”


Is “citizen participation” open to people who are not “citizens”? Continue Reading

A Snapshot of Police-Community Relations: Denver

Six board members, two staff members, and a dozen empty chairs were all that greeted public safety director Stephanie O’Malley when she walked into a sleek but soulless conference room in downtown Denver. For a safety department under fire for violent conditions at its main jail and allegedly flouting public records laws, and a civilian oversight agency relatively fresh from being enshrined in the city charter, this was an underwhelming sight.

Yet even in a city regarded as a national leader in holding the police and sheriff’s departments accountable, both the pace of reform and the depth of community engagement are far from consistent.

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