As an engagement strategist still recovering from chronic burnout as a result of my organizing efforts for the Boston Police Department and Neighbors for Neighbors (facilitating 250+ meetings a year for many years), I avoid spending entire Saturday afternoons at civic events like the plague.
To my surprise, something extraordinary happened yesterday. I ended up staying at a civic event for 7 hours and had a productive and fun experience.
The event I’m referring to is Mayor Gray’s One City Summit. The Summit, facilitated by AmericaSpeaks, explored the question “how can we become more of One City?
Here is my professional take on why this summit, unlike other civic experiences I’ve participated in, was so effective and why other cities should pay close attention:
1) Ground rules clearly stated:
2) A strong vision that resonated with participants presented:
One City is a place where every resident:
- Participates in a diverse, thriving economy with equality of opportunity
- Lives in a safe neighborhood free from crime
- Accesses quality public or public charter schools no matter what neighborhood he or she lives in
- Enjoys a high quality of life that includes access to quality healthcare, recreation, transportation, and retail choices in every ward of the city
- Finds affordable housing options throughout the city in ways that advance the racial and economic diversity we cherish
- Receives a solid return on investment and high-quality customer service from their government
- Lives in the most environmentally sound, sustainable city in the world
- Has a voice that counts – including a vote in Congress
3) Challenges supported by data clearly laid out:
- Unemployment: As of December 2011, Wards 2 and 3 have the lowest unemployment rates (5.0% and 2.6% respectively). Wards 7 and 8 have the highest (16.7% and 24.8% respectively). The overall unemployment in the District stands at 10.4%.
- High School Graduation Rates: For the latest data available (2009), the high school graduation rate in the District was approximately 51.6%.
- Illiteracy: Approximately 19% of District adults are functionally illiterate.