Planning for Stronger Local Democracy
As a culmination of NLC's work over the last decade responding to the challenges of governing democratically, NLC's democratic governance project presents Planning for Stronger Local Democracy: A Field Guide for Local Officials.
This tool kit is designed to assist city leaders in strengthening local democracy by cultivating a culture with their citizens and key allies that is transparent and inclusive with shared responsibilities and mutual accountability for addressing and solving problems.
Learn practical strategies that lead to a stronger local democracy. Part 1, Key Questions to Ask About How to Engage the Public, guides you through an examination of the strengths, weaknesses and history of the citizen-government relationship in cities. It includes models of practices from pioneering city leaders, their staff and democratic governance practitioners from around the country. Part 2, Developing Shared Civic Infrastructure, lays out a collaborative process for constructing a better framework for public engagement.
Or distribute the various elements of this guide to the city leaders, city staff and community leaders who are working to strengthen local democracy in your community.
- Forward & Acknowledgements
Part 1: Key Questions to Ask about How to Engage the Public
- There are many types and levels of public engagement - do you have a process for deciding which approach to use when?
- How effective are your public meetings and other official interactions between citizens and local government?
- How well do your key allies reflect and represent the full diversity of the community?
- How well are neighborhood associations and other grassroots groups serving their neighborhoods?
- Are there segments of the community that have historically been ignored or excluded?
- In what ways are recent immigrants connected, or disconnected, from the rest of the community?
- How well are you supporting young leaders and tapping into their potential?
- Have there been any deliberative public engagement initiatives, led by local government or by other organizations, recently in your city?
- How are you and your citizens using social media to connect with neighbors, solve problems and discuss local issues?
- Is local government data available online and how effectively does it complement and inform public engagement?
- How much is the city spending - and saving - on public engagement annually?
- How are engagement activities and initiatives evaluated and assessed?
- What are the legal mandates and restrictions on how you interact with the public?
- Do local officials and city employees have the skills, cultural awareness and organizational support to work productively with citizens?
Part 2: Developing Shared Civic Infrastructure
- CHART: Potential Building Blocks for Stronger Local Democracy
- Beginning Your Planning Process
- Potential Priorities for Democratic Governance in your Community
Creating Spaces for Citizens
- Democratic spaces in neighborhoods, schools and other settings
- Democratic spaces online
- Democratic spaces for young people
- Buildings that can house citizen spaces - physical hubs for engagement
- Engagement leadership
Building Skills and Capacity
- Public information dissemination
- Engagement skills training
- Tracking, measurement and technical assistance to improve engagement
Improving Public Decision-Making and Problem Solving
- Official public meetings that are more participatory and effective
- Recurring deliberative processes on key issues and decisions
- Systems that encourage innovation by citizens
- Cross-sector problem-solving teams