Social Street – A Hybrid Approach to Neighborhood Engagement

As we look to build community and solve problems together, we learn quickly that communication can be an asset or a challenge. Good communication can lead to dialog and understanding, while poor communication (or none at all) can be neutral or even damaging to relationships.

For communication nerds, the term “noise” is used to describe anything that interferes with proper reception of a message. Think about how you watch video. Noise can be an interruption in your Wifi, a weather event that disrupts the signal or even a talkative person who prevents you from hearing what’s said. Continue Reading

How Can Local Government Earn Trust in the Era of Fake News?

Rebuilding trust in American democracy was a central theme among public communicators who gathered at the City-County Communicators and Marketing Association (3CMA) www.3cma.org conference Sept. 6-8 in Anaheim, Calif.

#3CMAAnnual: “How can local government earn trust in the era of fake news?”

Explaining the “why” as part of a sustained story is a better strategy than regular blurt-outs to engage with the public, said Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole in the opening conference session. Invest in the time to develop key messages. Think about the way people feel about their government. He urged local government communicators to Continue Reading

Representative Local Government: How Do We Get There?

An important movement is growing, in Durham (NC) and across the country, to support and elect candidates from traditionally underrepresented populations to office and to better engage voters from those same populations. While this work was happening before the 2016 election, it is gaining momentum.

There are a variety of organizations working to equip black people, young people, immigrants, women, working class people, LGBTQ people, and others to run for local, state, and national office. Durham For All, a local political organization, is working to politically engage working-class people of color in order to make Durham’s local government more progressive and accountable to the needs of its working-class residents. One highly publicized example of the success of organizations like the ones linked above iis the election of Chokwe Antar Lumumba as the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi.

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Gratitude for Local Government on Independence Day

Happy Fourth, y’all!

I had a ton of ideas saved for this next blog post. There’s a cool story about how Brownsville , Brooklyn, created a neighborhood plan through text messaging with their local government. There’s another cool series on ELGL, my favorite local gov nerd group, called “The Local Government Nerve Center,” about the importance of the often-overlooked positions of clerks and recorders in local government, including this great love letter to city recorders.

But it’s the Fourth of July, and everything smells like grill smoke, and for the past four nights we’ve all been falling asleep listening to far-off fireworks. It’s a strange holiday this year, with so much political division and screaming headlines, but that reminds me even more strongly how important it is. There’s one group of people across the country who are, unlike you and I, working on this Tuesday, and they work for your local governments (and provide one of the services few can argue with or rail against): the folks who inspect all the fireworks shows you’ll see towns and counties put on. Continue Reading

Changing the Conversation

On a Monday night in late September 2016, community members filled the Charlotte City Council Chambers to capacity. One by one, they expressed fear, anger and frustration about the officer-involved shooting of Keith Lamont Scott and the state of the community. The response to what was heard both in the Chambers and during days of protests would prove to be a defining moment for the city.

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Having your Say with Local Government: Approaching Elected Officials for Optimal Results

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cary,_North_Carolina

Local government tends to work quietly in the background. When streets are passable, water is safe, and trash is being collected, we don’t think much about it. All that changes when our “normal” is threatened. A political battle, a big weather event, even a computer glitch can upset services we depend on. In some
cases, the effects can be more extreme. For example, the state of Illinois has no budget at the moment, in part because of a political standoff that has lasted for months.

Live somewhere long enough, and there’s a good chance you’ll need information from your local government. Because we don’t think about local government very often, we may not know how to get started. The good news is that most of the time, you have access to your local government and to elected officials. This is a key distinction between local government and the federal government; while few of us could personally take our praise or grievances to the president or lawmakers, we can have a conversation with elected officials at the local level pretty easily. How you go about it can affect your chances of getting what you want from the conversation.

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Engaging Citizens Locally, ACC Edition: “When the ball is passed to you, be ready to shoot.”

In the wake of the recent election and political upheaval across the country, my favorite professional organization – Emerging Local Government Leaders, fondly called ELGL – issued a call for people to begin channeling that civic involvement into issues and advocacy at the local level.

It’s a simple idea, but the recent election and unprecedented civic engagement mean that more people than ever are engaging with the public service matters that affect us most. So, ELGL said:

“If you want to get involved, no matter which political party you’re from – why don’t you take another look at local government?”

ELGL has been listed as a top national professional association, providing cutting-edge resources for new strategies in local government leadership. Continue Reading

Is this any way to run an election?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/southbeachcars/8150539704/in/photolist-6Axky5-dofEB1-6EfcB6-78hQiT-dofEQm-dofF1u-dofwZc-dofwLF-dofEMs-dofExm-5C3ZJM-5C3ZEx-5C3ZPT-9RWY5h-dqeDuC-5yhFRR-8Yi5u9-6oqStP-5wjkXt-2fqC2-5xGJQV-ac55u-5zisnU-5z4oqB-7YH176-7YLgj7-5zeazF-7ZkWpL-7ZhHsT-7YHViU-7YGZAn-7Zgydh-dqm4xE-dqm6hq-5z4ouX-drrkpU-7Zgxzb-9chSab-7Zmb25-dqm6RN-dqm1BP-4SgQQR-4Sm7i5-5wjhst-5wGZco-5wCDzR-5sZUor-4WPrVx-5JoVxt-5zhH6p

I am a long time consistent voter – one of the ones that even shows up for primaries in off year local elections!  Perhaps that is not surprising since I am a political science professor.  But what might surprise you is that I had never volunteered for any “on the ground” election activities like poll greeting, poll watching, or poll assistance.   This year I decided to do that, in part because I was expecting my students to engage in some kind of political activity for class and I thought I ought to do what I was expecting them to do, and in part because I was concerned about claims that the election system was” rigged” in some way (I heard this claim from both sides of the aisle).  This blog post is a reflection on what I learned and experienced when I left the “ivory tower” and volunteered as a poll observer on election day.

cele-voting-picture-1

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