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Denver's Mayor Organizes Citizen Engagement and Civic Action

[via policyconsensus.org]

Public engagement is a priority for Denver’s Mayor John Hickenlooper. Two years ago his office organized Denver Listens, an outreach campaign through which over 600 residents prioritized services in preparation for the budget process. Last month the Mayor launched Partnership Denver: Neighbors Building Solutions, an effort seeking to connect public discussion with citizen action. The Mayor’s team decided to use the Oregon Solutions model to engage citizens in actually working toward solutions they first identify through discussion. As with Oregon Solutions, Partnership Denver is founded on the premise that partnership among citizens and government creates better and more lasting solutions than any one sector could achieve by itself. In March and April six community meetings were held throughout Denver. The meetings were centered around the question, “How can I work in partnership to make Denver neighborhoods better places to live, work and play?” Over 400 community members attended the meetings along with the Mayor, City Council members, and City staff. Using keypad voting tools, they identified their most important topics and issues. To read about further civic action in Denver, click on the link below.

Following the voting, city staff facilitated lively discussions over strategies for solving neighborhood issues. Participants sought strategies that could actually be achieved through partnerships.

Now that the meetings have concluded, the Mayor’s Office is organizing the implementation phase of Partnership Denver. For issues already being addressed by neighborhood groups, nonprofits, or the City, the Mayor’s Office will help Partnership Denver participants join in. For other promising strategies, the city will form Solution Teams made up of diverse groups and individuals.

Partnerships created through Partnership Denver: Neighbors Building Solutions will generally involve the City along with interested groups and individuals. Some uncertainties remain to be worked out. For example, will the City be able adjust existing priorities that differ with those chosen through Partnership Denver? And will community members stay engaged through the action phase?

The Mayor’s office and the Denver community are excited about the challenges and the opportunity to apply the Oregon Solutions simple and transparent model to achieve action in Denver’s neighborhoods. For more information contact Denver’s Neighborhood Liaisons, Monica Martinez and Tamara Banks.

Amy Lang
Amy Lang is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at the University of British Columbia. She wrote her dissertation on British Columbia’s groundbreaking Citizens’ Assembly process, and is currently doing follow-up research on the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly.

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