Civic Engagement

Making the Most of Public Input

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Civic Engagement

The Strong Towns approach may appear unorthodox. For instance, our article claiming that most civic engagement is worthless got a lot of attention but made a valuable point about the tension between local government and its constituents. Our point was that while it's important to meet citizens' needs and make them aware of what's happening to their community, those goals cannot result in tired methods, inadequate solutions, or the perpetuation of the status quo.

Ultimately, we suggest that most civic engagement is worthless because most civic professionals and elected officials don't know what citizens want. Further, it can be difficult for some citizens to articulate what they want. This suggests that holistic, big-picture plans motivated by civic engagement may be a costly mistake.

The Strong Towns approach reimagines civic engagement as civic leaders observing where and how citizens struggle in their communities. Rather than prescribe big solutions, these leaders need to humble themselves and listen to the problems. Our approach is incremental, a give-and-take between citizens and leaders that creates thriving cities over time. Building a strong town can't be done in one movement, but rather through a process of humility, observation, and problem-solving. Learn more about the Strong Towns approach by visiting our website.

About Strong Towns

Strong Towns supports thousands of people across the United States and Canada who are advocating for a radically new way of thinking about the way we build our world. We call it the Strong Towns approach.

We believe that in order to truly thrive, our cities and towns must:

  • Stop valuing efficiency and start valuing resilience
  • Stop betting our futures on huge, irreversible projects, and start taking small, incremental steps and iterating based on what we learn
  • Stop fearing change and start embracing a process of continuous adaptation
  • Stop building our world based on abstract theories, and start building it based on how our places actually work and what our neighbors actually need today
  • Stop obsessing about future growth and start obsessing about our current finances

But most importantly, we believe that Strong Citizens from all walks of life can and must participate in a Strong Towns approach—from citizens to leaders, professionals to neighbors, and everyone in between. And that means we need you.

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Strong Towns is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (EIN 27-1459378)