Monday, January 31, 2011

Community Engagement Food For Thought (and more!)

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How do we stay current with fresh ideas about community life and making the places we live vibrant and exciting? “We just do it”, some would say… And “doing it” is certainly a must: Talk along will not get it done. Or, as Larry the Cable Guy would say: “Get it done”!

Yet, to some of us with inquiring minds, reading, researching, and dialoguing about how things are done elsewhere; or gaining a better understanding of the strategic thinking that went behind a major community engagement program or project helps us do our own work better… It is for those minds that this blog posting is intended…

I occasionally run across certain pieces that I simply say: “Gee, I bet others would enjoy knowing about this!” For example, recently I received the magazine “The Next American City”, a rather progressive magazine that looks at the places we live much more so from a people-based perspective than from the built environment's perspective. The latest issue has a series of fascinating articles, not the least of which is the one featured on the cover, “Putting the UD back in HUD.” The interview with Shaun Donavan, HUD’s Secretary is very insightful… Check it out at www.AmericanCity.org

I also recently received an e-mail from Matt Leighninger, a friend of mine that is the Executive Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, a ‘think thank’ about community engagement. He shared various recent pieces of works – and other happenings – that might be of interest to those of those that are into these thing, including:

Like to read books? Try “Toward Wiser Public Judgement” (Daniel Yankelovich)… The book describes how some of the main ideas in our field have changed. If the question in 1991 was “How do we help citizens come to public judgment?,” then the question of 2011 may be “What are the ways democracy must change (and in some cases, is changing) in order to make public judgment more achievable, powerful, and central?”
http://www.vanderbiltuniversitypress.com/books/399/toward-wiser-public-judgment

Like to go to conferences, but can’t afford to? You may enjoy reading the proceedings of conferences such as “Partnering with Communities”, which highlights how Federal agencies are innovatatively working with communities. The main web-link is at: http://community-plan.net/nationalworkshop/ One particularly interesting piece is on how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is doing it:
http://community-plan.net/nationalworkshop/docs/appendix_6_nih_community_partnerships.pdf

Deal with schools? The Akron Neighborhood Trust and the Akron Public Schools are using deliberative organizing strategies and concepts to help parents and community members shape the services and mission of the Community Learning Centers being built in the city. You can view recommendations
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JwIeaEPoYY

Looking for grants? The IBM Center for The Business of Government has issued its latest request for research proposals on transparency, participatory democracy, online engagement, and other topics important to public managers. The deadline is March 1.
http://www.businessofgovernment.org/content/research-stipends

Headed to L.A.? Then why not check out the Davenport Institute’s conference entitled “A Place in the World: Geography, Identity, and Civic Engagement in Modern America” at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy in Malibu, California, on March 11-12. Themes will include “Cosmopolitanism and Place,” “Public Engagement: A Chance to Build Community in the ‘New Normal,’” “Mobility and Membership,” and “Participatory Planning: How We Involve the ‘Public.’”
http://publicpolicy.pepperdine.edu/news-events/events/2011/a-place-in-the-world/

Heard “America Speak(s)”? American Speaks is a fascinating organization that advances the practice of community engagement… They can be found at: http://americaspeaks.org/
They’ve released their “Most Interesting Public Deliberations in 2010” via a blog posting at:
http://americaspeaks.org/blog/five-most-interesting-public-deliberations-in-2010/

Transparency? What transparency? A new report from the Institute for Development Studies gives us an initial, international read on the effectiveness of transparency initiatives. One of the many key insights is that “A common assumption is that greater transparency generates greater accountability, yet growing evidence exists that transparency alone is insufficient, and only leads to greater accountability in interaction with other factors.”
http://www.drc-citizenship.org/news%20and%20events/2010/ieta.htm

The Main Link: Deliberative Democracy Consortium main website has lots of more goodies: http://www.deliberative-democracy.net/

For example, one link takes you to the Knight Foundation’s work on how community engagement and economic activity connects. The article is part of the Foundation’s work on “The Soul of the Community”, found at http://www.soulofthecommunity.org/

enJoy!

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