National Civic Review

National Civic ReviewThe National Civic Review, the quarterly journal of the National Civic League, is one of the nation's oldest civic affairs journals. Founded in 1912, the Review features thoughtful essays on democratic governance and civic engagement. The journal is published for NCL by Jossey-Bass Publishing. There are two ways to receive NCR: one is to subscribe directly; the other is to become a member of the National Civic League and receive NCR as a benefit of membership.


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Looking Beyond Our Recent Past - Timothy Shaffer (Fall 2016)

Author Timothy J. Shaffer explores a long forgotten experiment in democratic discourse launched by Department of Agriculture officials during the Great Depression in the latest issue of the National Civic Review. "What can easily be lost in the retelling of these initiatives was the degree to which local knowledge and experience was valued alongside technical expertise from the USDA and how citizens were recognized as civic actors with their own agency," writes Shafer, an assistant professor at Kansas State University.

Blogging for Community Engagement Learning: An Experiment - John B. Stephens (Summer 2016)

With the decline of print media over the past ten years, political blogs have become a more and more important source of news and opinion for millions of readers. Unfortunately, too many of these blogs are narrowly partisan, factually questionable or lacking in civility. Would it be possible to use blogging as a way to promote civic engagement, productive discourse and community problem-solving? That's the question two government professors at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill sought to answer when the Community Engagement Learning Exchange website was created in December of 2014. "Our primary interest is to create a way for grassroots citizens, local government officials, and academics to contribute equally to ideas, experiences, assessments, and critiques of community engagement," writes UNC prof John B. Stephens.

Suggsville USA: A Composite Case Study of Democratic Practices in Communities - David Mathews (Summer 2016)

Welcome to Suggsville, USA, a poor, rural community with higher than average rates of disease and unemployment, lower than average test scores and a growing drug problem. Suggsville is not a real town, but a composite case study of a community where citizens are "doing the work of democracy" by naming and framing local problems, deliberating, identifying resources, acting and learning. In a National Civic Review article, Kettering Foundation President and author David Mathews draws on decades of research, learning exchanges and the experiences of real communities to illustrate the workings of these six democratic practices.

Fort Collins, Colorado: An Expectation of Public Engagement - Aaron B. Leavy (Spring 2016)

Fort Collins, Colorado, is creating a citywide "culture of engagement," emphasizing the value of public participation in its hiring practices, planning decisions, neighborhood disputes and policy discussions. For example, before deliberating on important city issues, city council members are provided with a written public engagement plan. "We value public opinion and feel that better decisions are made based upon engaging the public," noted one city staffer in a recent interview. "That's the ethic from which everything derives."

Making Ends Meet: A National Conversation on Spreading Wealth and Opportunity - Michael McGrath (Spring 2016)

Looking for a break from the often over-heated and simplistic rhetoric of the 2016 presidential primaries? For more than 30 years, the Kettering Foundation has brought together policymakers and practitioners of deliberative democracy to discuss the findings and insights of citizen deliberations on the day's most timely and controversial issues. Findings from the most recent forums will be released during Kettering's annual A Public Voice event. This year's event, to be held May 5 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., will focus on two issues important to all Americans: health-care costs and economic opportunity.

Dubuque: Creating a Culture of Engagement - Sarah J. Lipscomb (Winter 2015)

In the early 1980s, Dubuque, IA, struggled with one of the country's highest unemployment rates and faced the potential of a mass population exodus. In the winter issue of the National Civic Review, NCL's Sarah Lipscomb tells Dubuque's inspiring story of community change. "Spurred by a depressed economy, Dubuque leveraged partnerships and citizens' strengths to put the city back on the map," she writes. "The evolution of their visioning process to address challenges and emphasize partnerships has led to broader engagement and more sustainable solutions for the community at large." Today Dubuque is considered a success story and a leader when it comes to sustainable economic development and collaborative problem-solving.

Santa Rosa Together: A Case Study of an Ongoing Effort to Rebuild Democracy at the Local Level - Hank Topper (Winter 2015)

Wracked by dissension between pro and anti-development forces on the city council, the political atmosphere in Santa Rosa, California, was becoming more and more adversarial. At the same time, neighborhood activists feared their voices weren't being heard at city hall. Grassroots activists worked with local officials and community leaders to organize a citywide meeting of neighborhoods to "begin to build a different kind of partnership with the city." In a new case study of the "Santa Rosa Together" initiative, community organizer Hank Topper explores the potential of this effort to "rebuild democracy at the local level" to provide a "workable alternative" to the politics of dissension and disengagement.

After the Flood: Citizen Action Following Natural Disaster - Aaron B. Leavy (Summer 2015)

After years of drought, Southern California communities are now facing a new threat, torrential rains and flooded streets thanks to the effects of the Pacific weather pattern known as El Nino. Seems like every time you turn on the Become a Member of NCLToday! Your membership in the National Civic League helps ensure that the All-America City Award continues to inspire, support and recognize civic innovation - become a member today. Quick Links National Civic League All-America City Award Apply for AAC 2016 Become a member television or the read the newspapers there's a new outbreak of freakish weather. These events challenge the fabric of our communities, but they can also bring out hidden civic capacities. Find out how community organizers and volunteers in Boulder County, CO rallied to provide relief and resources for the victims of the disastrous 2013 floods. The magnitude of the disaster, writes author Aaron Leavy in a recent issue of the National Civic Review, "reshuffled people's expectations about who can and should take action and what is possible. In the moments and months after the floods, people recognized in themselves and their neighbors a previously unseen capacity to tackle critical problems, to forge strong connections, and to shape the future of their communities through informal groups."

Field of Dreams and an Army of Volunteers: Lakewood, Colorado - Michael McGrath (Fall 2015)

Reg Cox is a pastor, but his work as a catalyst for school improvement in Lakewood, Colorado earned him another title - "City Connector." Leveraging his work with faith-based groups, neighborhood leaders, the city, businesses, and the local school district, Cox hopes to reproduce his success at Foothills Elementary in neighborhoods across Lakewood, an All-America City in 2011. Learn how a neighborhood effort to revitalize an untended and unusable playing field sparked an initiative to improve academics and establish closer links between the school, the neighborhood and the city at large. A local eyesore and nuisance has become an asset for the neighborhood.

Health Determinants of Early School Success - Becky Miles Polka (Winter 2014)

We tend to think of reading as a simple process of learning language, letters, and sounds, yet success in school is affected by the development of the whole child, including the closely intertwined aspects of a child's physical, social, emotional, and cognitive health. Addressing the health concerns that affect children's learning can go a long way in enabling communities to move forward on boosting reading skills. Find out more about the link between health and reading in this National Civic Review article by Becky Miles-Polka, a senior consultant with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading