Civic Engagement and Public Participation
“We are bound by ideals that teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these ideals. Every citizen must uphold them…. I ask you to be citizens. Citizens, not spectators. Citizens, not subjects. Responsible citizens building communities of service and a nation of character.”
–George W. Bush
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, civic engagement is “the process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting the well-being of those people. It is a powerful vehicle for bringing about environmental and behavioral changes that will improve the health of the community and its members. It often involves partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems, change relationships among partners, and serve as catalysts for changing policies, programs, and practices” (CDC, 1997, p. 9).
The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation asserts that there are seven core principles for civic engagement:
Planning and preparation
Inclusion and demographic diversity
Collaboration and shared purpose
Openness and learning
Transparency and trust
Impact and action
Sustained engagement and participatory culture
Source: (Atlee, 2009)
An example of successful, community engagement was the formation of the Jefferson County Historical Society (now known as the Evergreen, Mountain Area Historical Society). In 1973, concerned residents of Evergreen, Colorado, realized that even though their town was rapidly expanding due to interstate highway access, they were losing touch with the past. As a result, a group of citizens organized the non-profit, historical society; and then the historical society petitioned the county to purchase a historical dwelling that was home to one of the town’s founders. Renamed the Hiwan Museum and managed by both the county and the historical society, residents can tour the facility and learn about Colorado’s pioneering days. In addition, the Evergreen Mountain Area Historical Society continues to “protect, preserve, and promote the history of Jefferson County” (EMAHS, 2019).
Yet, organizing civic engagement is not always easy. There are obstacles which have to be overcome, which is why persistence and passion for change are needed.
Directions: Using the required, academic readings, and supplemental academic research, please address the following while adhering to the Discussion Board Rubric:
Why is civic responsibility important?
What are the barriers to civic engagement?
How can citizens overcome these barriers?
Has the Internet and social media helped or hindered civic engagement?
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