inCommon is the Participatory Governance Blog of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy. Here you will find information about the latest resources, studies, programs and discussions about Civic Engagement in California, throughout the nation and around the world. We hope that the case studies and technological innovations discussed here will spark new reflection and conversation regarding both what legitimate civic engagement looks like and why it is important for good governance, particularly at the local level.
New to Civic Engagement? Check out our foundational documents »
Earlier this year we announced a new grant project undertaken in partnership with The Village Square to build better capacity for conversations between residents in California Cities. Last month we announced that our first grants would go to two very different cities: City of Palmdale and City of Palo Alto. As we head into the new year we’re gearing up to get those projects underway. You can read about the Palmdale project in the Antelope Valley Times:
Along with Palo Alto, Palmdale will receive services and expenses valued at $15,000 through the Village Square’s “Dinner at the Square” program, which is designed to improve the way residents in diverse communities engage with one another. . .
(Liz) Joyner explained that the Village Square is founded on the notion that getting involved in the civic life of your community shouldn’t be dull. “We’re all busy with the responsibilities of our lives, so for people to bother to come out in their free time to participate, we think it better be worth it,” said Joyner. “We chose Palmdale for this grant because we think their ideas are highly deserving of their citizens’ valuable time.”
A new volunteer program called Generation Citizen seeks to engage college students in teaching high school students about being engaged citizens:
What is Generation Citizen? Well, it’s a nonprofit that places college volunteers in high schools and middle schools to teach a class and run a semester long civic-centered project. These college volunteers (or Democracy Coaches, as they’re called) are neither student teachers nor education majors, but are simply interested and engaged citizens.
For one semester, a Democracy Coach works in a classroom helping students research and develop a plan to solve a local problem of their choosing. First, the students have to identify the root cause. Next, they create a specific goal to address that cause. Then, they must create a list of people who can achieve that goal and develop tactics to persuade them to help. Lastly, they form alliances and execute the plan.
You can read more from NationSwell here.
In the last hundred years, gasoline and electric engines have replaced equine power in innumerable instances. But one place that horses are still a very real part of the labor force is in police patrols. Whether its park patrols, where horses can more easily maneuver wooded or overgrown areas, or crowd control, where horses provide an intimidating but not threatening barrier, modern technology has come up with no better answer. Recent research from the UK suggests another advantage of using horses for public safety – increased rapport and trust between officers and the public:
Police horses are useful for crowd control, but they also improve public trust in the police and help to build positive relationships between officers and the general public. This is according to research from the University of Oxford and RAND Europe.
Researchers analyzed the public response to mounted police units at public demonstrations, soccer games, a music festival and as neighborhood patrols over an 18 month period. The goal of the research was to observe the actions and impacts of mounted police units, to find out how the public perceives mounted police officers and to provide data on the costs and benefits of mounted police work.
You can find out more here.
This week the Washington Post began running a series focusing on ways that citizens participate outside the voting booth and what that means for the state of American politics and government:
Over the next two weeks, the Monkey Cage will post responses to this question from members of the Scholars Strategy NetworkCivic Engagement Working Group. They will address the causes and consequences of non-electoral civic participation. Can this participation be harnessed for electoral turnout as well as for ongoing base building for advocacy organizations? Does business involvement in grass-roots mobilization and advocacy make participation less equal? Do new technologies mitigate possible inequalities? What do patterns of participation and advocacy look like around specific issues? Civic participation between elections has implications for American politics that extends beyond the outcome of any single election. The series will examine how the long-term strategies of movements and advocacy groups on both the right and the left extend beyond elections and significantly shape policy landscapes and outcomes.
You can read more and follow the conversation here.
Community Engagement has increasingly become a priority for universities. In some areas that goes well beyond. Some are trying to help neighborhoods become safer by increase lighting and increase safety patrols while others are concerned about human trafficking within their neighborhood. The NextCities blog recently highlighted a few of these programs including:
- Penn Alexander School, Philadelphia – improving the residential neighborhood near campus
- MIT’s Creating Community Connections, Boston – using information technology as a tool for empowerment in low to moderate income developments
- Mesa Community College in Mesa Arizona’s “Coming Out of Hiding Project”- helping victims of human trafficking across international boarders and into their community.
- Center for Civic Leadership at Rice University, Houston – engages faculty and students in service, research and programs aimed at reducing poverty in Houston’s Fifth Ward
You can read more about these projects here.
Contributor: Elliot Parisi, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’15