Community engagement is an essential component of local democracy. Without it, city policies are less effective and municipalities risk alienating their constituents. But as many cities leaders know firsthand, standard public meetings are no longer the most effective way to both reach constituents and build meaningful relationships.
With an ever-innovating tech landscape increasingly catering to cities, many city leaders are turning to apps, software, and social media to maximize community outreach and input. Others still continue to rely on traditional forms of engagement such as surveys and public meetings, to increase access to public participation for more equitable outcomes. Further, many cities engage in participatory budgeting practices in which constituents have a direct say in how portions of city budgets are allocated. We have provided a wide range of resources and examples on community engagement models that span from tech-driven to traditional.
The role of constituents throughout these models spans from advisory to direct decision makers. It is up to an individual city to determine which models are right for them; key, however, in any community engagement model is a proactive commitment to centering the voices of those historically marginalized and most vulnerable.