The Winter issue of the National Civic Review focuses on 25 years of the U.S. Healthy Communities movement. Volume 102, number 4 of the National Civic Review is the first of two special issues on Healthy Communities. The second will be published in April 2014. Link here to see the table of contents and access individual articles.
The National Civic League is partnering in 2014 with Community Commons to celebrate 25 years of Healthy Communities and the ideas embodied by the movement. Community Commons is an interactive mapping, networking, and learning utility for the broad-based healthy, sustainable, and livable communities’ movement.
The Healthy Communities movement, with its emphasis on cross-sector collaboration, civic engagement and transforming the settings and environments that are the drivers of health, has inspired hundreds of U.S. communities to think and act in fundamentally different ways.
The National Civic League was an important catalyst in the early years of the movement, and this year’s All-America City Awards will have a Healthy Communities focus.
A few years ago Tony DeSisto ran for a seat on the Tampa City Council and lost but ended up serving on the city’s budget advisory committee. Month after month he watched as worthy city projects went unfunded because of fiscal constraints. In some case citizens said they would be willing to pay for these projects themselves.
DeSisto reached out to a political consultant named Jordan Raynor and together they launched Citizeninvestor.com, a “crowd funding” website for worthy city projects that cities can’t afford to fund.
Here’s how it works: municipalities and counties across the country to identify projects that have been scored and approved but for which the funds are not available. A description of the project is posted on line and citizens are given 60 to 90 days to pledge funds for the goal. If the monetary goal is reached, the credit card charges are released and the project moves forward. If not, the cards aren’t charged.
So far about 15 projects have gone through the process and 11 of them have been successfully funded. A recent example: Naperville, Illinois, where a nonprofit group had purchased a statue to honor Navy veterans. The city wanted to put it in a public park, but didn’t have the funds to build the pedestal. So Raynor and DeSisto posted a description of the project and $25,000 was raised to complete the project. On October 14, the “Spirit of the Navy” statue was unveiled at a public ceremony attended by 75 residents, including a number of veterans.
A current project concerns the struggling city of Central Falls, Rhode Island, one of a handful of American cities that have actually gone bankrupt. The bankruptcy left the city understaffed and underfunded. With a new mayor and a new spirit of optimism, the city is on the mend, but in the meantime, a small but worrisome problem is Jenks Park. The flimsy trash cans in the park keep tipping over, strewing garbage around the park and environs.
Central Falls turned to citizeninvestor.com to raise money to buy new, more solid trash/recycling containers that won’t tip over in high winds. The goal is to raise about $10,000 and wite co-founder Jordan Raynor is optimistic the goal will be reached.
“Really, we were trying to focus on two problems,” explains Raynor. “The first is, obviously, government doesn’t have resources to provide all these projects and services, and second, citizens don’t always have an effective way of telling government which public projects they care about. We built CitizenInvestor.com to be a crowd funding and a public engagement platform for government projects.”
Tired of tense, unproductive public meetings? Want to embed better online and face-to-face processes in the way governments work? Making Public Participation Legal, a new publication of the National Civic League, includes a set of tools, including a model ordinance, set of policy options, and resource list, to help communities improve public participation. The publication is now available for free. Download here.
Most of the laws that govern public participation in the United States are over thirty years old. They do not match the expectations and capacities of citizens today, they predate the Internet, and they do not reflect the lessons learned in the last two decades about how citizens and governments can work together. Increasingly, public officials and staff are wondering whether the best practices in participation are in fact supported – or even allowed – by the law.
Over the past year, the Working Group on Legal Frameworks for Public Participation has produced new tools, including a model local ordinance and model amendment to state legislation, in order to help create a more supportive, productive, and equitable environment for public participation. The Working Group has been coordinated by the Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC).
Making Public Participation Legal is a publication of the National Civic League, with support from the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation. The Working Group also includes representatives of the American Bar Association, International Municipal Lawyers Association, National League of Cities, Policy Consensus Initiative, International Association for Public Participation, and International City/County Management Association, as well as leading practitioners and scholars of public participation.
Communities that want to move forward with new public engagement processes and policies can also turn to an array of new resources being offered through ICMA’s Center for Management Strategies. CMS has assembled a team of leading engagement practitioners, research specialists, and subject matter experts who can help local governments develop and implement effective civic engagement programs.
This year we are offering communities 50% off of the AAC application fee if we receive a letter of intent to apply by November 15th. Anyone involved in the community efforts can complete the short letter to be returned by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The link below provides a template for the letter. Feel free to contact us with any questions at email@example.com or (303) 571-4343 and we look forward to learning about your community projects!
The 2013 All-America City Quilt left Denver, Colorado, today to begin the first leg of an 11-month, 13 state odyssey.
Each year, finalists in the All-America City Award program are asked to submit quilt squares representing something special about their communities. The squares are stitched together into a quilt, which tours the country visiting each finalist town, city, county or region.
“The quilt has come to be an important part of the All-America City Awards,” said NCL President Gloria Rubio-Cortes. “It symbolizes people working together to make their communities better places to live, work and play. The tour gives communities another opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments in a very public and visible way.”
Southwest Airlines, the Official Airline of the All-America City Awards, is launching the quilt on its national tour again this year. The quilt will stop in each finalist community for several days, where it will go on display in public buildings and community centers.
Typically, the quilt squares feature images that are unique to the individual communities, perhaps a logo, a motto or a well-known local landmark or natural feature. Colorado Springs, for example, included an image of Pike’s Peak. Dubuque, Iowa’s patch shows a bridge over the Mississippi River.
First up on the quilt’s tour will be Birmingham, Alabama, one of 10 winners of the 2013 All-America City Award. The last stop (August 2014) will be in Norfolk, Virginia, also a 2013 All-America City.
In between it will make appearances in each of the 2013 AAC finalist communities, including Sarasota County, Florida, an All-America City in 2006, where the quilt and those from past years will be displayed at a local quilt show in March
The 2013 AAC sponsors include The Piton Foundation, The Campaign for Grade Level Reading, Southwest Airlines – The Official Airline of the All-America City Awards, PCL Construction Enterprises, El Pomar Foundation, Greenberg Traurig, Merrick & Company, Google, BBVA Compass, the City of Aurora, Colorado, the City of Lakewood, Colorado, Carl & Lily Pforzheimer Foundation, FirstBank, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Link to the name of the community to find out more about their award-winning projects.
Congratulations to the 2013 All-America Cities!