Civic EngagementConsulting and Coaching
Civic engagement is important to me because for over 30 years, I have been interested in good governance, transparency, justice, and inclusiveness in my work for federal, state and local government agencies. These principles have guided me in how I worked to design and conduct government projects and programs. I have always been attracted to work that required me to look outward to the communities I served and to offer meaningful opportunities for citizens to be a part of the solution to environmental problems.
However, over the years of my career, it became clear to me that the divide between the public and government agencies and between members of the public themselves was growing. I watched as the very fabric of our democracy became increasingly frayed and relationships became more and more acrimonious. This became especially concerning as the complexity and seriousness of public problems grew and the need for effective civic problem-solving became more acute.
It became increasingly evident that the only path to resolving these problems would require us to look beyond self-interest alone and explore the common good together. A common good perspective seemed to be the only way to address issues like water, where we all have a vested interest in how much and how clean it is and how to protect it for future generations.
Over my career, I have had the ability to focus my efforts on creating meaningful opportunities for public engagement in watershed projects. My passion for this work began in the early 1990’s when I was asked to improve citizen involvement in clean-up of the Minnesota River. This work would ultimately change the direction of my career. In this project and many others, I have worked closely with local governments, nonprofits and the public on creating safe, civic spaces where complex issues can be addressed, discussed and resolved. Our civic lives are important, and it is my belief that we each have a moral obligation to participate in civic life in some manner in order to sustain our democracy and solve collective, public problems. The truth is that we need each other if we are to sustain the quality of life we have come to expect.
I have experience planning and conducting a variety of civic processes for state and local government agencies, including advisory committees, open houses, community conversations, water planning meetings, public workshops, etc. I can help local government, nonprofit staff and members of the public quickly work through the possibilities, get focused quickly on what they have the time, money and interest in doing and then create a trajectory of activities that moves them toward more meaningful, effective civic engagement in their communities and among key constituencies.
Below, you will see the kinds of support I can offer.
- Exploring a leader’s goals around creating a more inclusive, effective civic approach to their work (considers the mindset, processes and practices of the leader and their organization) in their specific area of expertise.
- Setting civic engagement goals for a specific project.
- Helping to sort through the possibilities of the kinds of civic engagement tools and techniques to utilize in order to develop specific engagement strategies which meet specific programmatic needs. This can include citizen participation planning for a specific project.
- Coaching local leaders in the use of day-to-day civic practices as they work through public projects.
- Developing feedback loops to ensure that citizen input is considered and that there is public accountability to achieve and sustain public goals.