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Five Ways to Encourage Civic Engagement

December 9, 2013
by Jacque Porte

Civic engagement has been shown to result in increased tax revenue, increased efficiency, better allocation of resources, increased trust, and improved implementation processes. Today we’ll examine five ways to encourage citizens to participate in your municipality.

Learn How Citizens Think

View programs and legislation from the perspective of citizens affected by it in order to anticipate potential disputes or concerns. Citizens often know their communities better than municipal employees, understand the pain points and true alternatives better, know the relative importance of the problem, and know why they are really supporting one cause over another.

Facilitate Awareness Through Technology

Use web portals to post agendas and minutes, and to live-stream meetings for citizens who cannot attend meetings. Many citizens may want to participate in local government but lack the gateway to learn more about legislation and the municipal process.

Give Citizens a Voice

Commenting features and sticky notes give citizens the ability to make notes in response to specific agenda items, with comments being either public or private. Making these options available to the community allows people to track their reactions to legislation and ask questions to staff and board members. Use the power of technology to foster citizen-centered dialogue and action.

Start Young

Develop programs targeted at young citizens to promote problem-solving skills and inspire participation in local government.

Consider the Future

Citizens often benefit from programs that ask them to devise a plan for the future, such as Ocala’s Vision 2035 Plan, which relies on civic participation and feedback. Community members help to identify long-term goals and the short-term plans that will help the municipality reach these goals. The creation of a citizen-led Leadership Group can inject the citizen’s perspective and expertise into your municipality’s decision-making, allowing contributions directly from community members. Shift the focus from deliberation to action.

Are your citizens engaged? Talk to us for more advice on how to encourage civic participation in your legislative process via Email or call us at (631) 619-2015.

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