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In late 2015, community leaders in Columbus came together to develop a planning process to build trust and resilience against potential situations that could tear at the social fabric of the community. This proactive effort proved invaluable in 2020 when civil unrest emerged in cities throughout the country.
A strategy of people working with our governing institutions requires citizens who are seen, and who see themselves, as producers not just constituents and consumers. Americans don’t lack the ability to do it, but many of our institutions have little experience working with citizens as other than volunteers.
We are at a moment when some Americans may feel overwhelmed or paralyzed by the multiple challenges we face as a country. But it is during these difficult moments when individuals open up to the possibilities of transformational shifts.
In a time of local government budget cuts, it is almost inevitable that services will suffer. By taking equity into account, a local government can reduce the pain experienced by disadvantaged parts of the community and reduce the pain experienced by the community as a whole.
In 2019 and 2020, a group of local government managers met twice a year to trade ideas and experiences on innovative forms of citizen engagement and democratic governance, and in some cases, to unlearn some of the lessons they may have been taught in their M.P.A programs.
During Zoom learning exchanges in May and October of 2020, members of a leadership institute for Black public administrators were asked to discuss their experiences both personal and professional as they struggled to adjust to the new realities of the spread of COVID-19 and civil unrest in their communities.
National Civic Review (Print ISSN 0027-9013, Online ISSN1542-7811) is published quarterly by the National Civic League, Copyright © 2018 National Civic League.