In political circles you might find complaints about constituents being “angry and absent”. It is a great way to describe the current state of affairs in most government settings. Politicians and civic staff are frustrated that people do nothing but complain about decisions that are made, but refuse to show up to actually give an opinion when they attempt to garner feedback. Citizens are outraged with how the government operates and feel that their voice is never heard so they stop participating.
This vicious circle has to come to an end. The way to do it is local engagement. I believe that the federal government in the short term is a lost cause. State and county governments probably stand little near term chance, but city government has the ability to reverse the cycle almost immediately. City council members and staff need to meet people where they are at. They need to engage them in mediums they are comfortable with and in ways that show they are real. This means they have to stop behaving in old ways and adopt new ways of thinking. If you are a politician or a member of staff consider the following.
Transparency versus Covering Up
Experimentation versus The Perfect Solution
Conversation versus Oration
Authenticity versus Public Image
Policy versus Politics
Council and committee meetings are not the way to engage your communities. No one believes that they have a voice in those archaic structures. Find ways to create conversation, build relationships and most importantly allow yourself to be vulnerable.
If you want help. Contact me. I would love to help you engage with your citizens. The truth is that we are all human and most of us love the places we live. When we can start working together towards making that place better we all win.