The New Laboratories of Democracy: How Local Government Is Reinventing Civic Engagement

May 29, 2009 | by
  • Description

All over the country, local governments are mobilizing citizens in innovative ways to set priorities, make decisions, overcome conflicts, and solve critical community problems. Local government officials, both elected and appointed, are pioneering a concept called "democratic governance," the art of governing communities in participatory, deliberative, collaborative ways. For example, as local fiscal conditions continue to spiral downward, many cities are using the opportunity to approach tough, complex and controversial budget decisions by seeking input from the community about their wants and needs, their evaluation of services, and their priorities. These local innovations are highlighted in this valuable report from PACE, " The New Laboratories of Democracy: How Local Governments are Reinventing Civic Engagement." The report traces the development of a new set of values among citizens, elected officials and public managers, one that emphasizes collaboration, deliberation, consensus-building and participation. Readers will glean fresh insights from experts and leaders in the emerging field of democratic government and learn of vibrant examples of communities that are trying new approaches to planning and decision-making.