Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

New NLC Action Guide Focuses on Civility

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

New NLC Action Guide Focuses on Civility

Article excerpt

NLC has created an action guide, Beyond Civility: From Public Engagement to Problem Solving, to assist local elected officials in creating a framework for civility and democratic governance that encourages governing a community in a participatory, deliberative, inclusive and collaborative way.

The national discussion on civility, borne out of the terrible events in Tucson last month, demonstrates that many believe the current overheated rhetoric is not working as a means to solve the nation's problems. Policy debates are increasingly fraught with name calling, electioneering, posturing and worse.

The guide outlines seven principles cities can take to build a culture of inclusion and openness:

1. Act as models of civility

2. Sharpen governing skills

3. Create opportunities for informed engagement

4. Support a culture of community involvement

5. Make the most of technology

6. Include everybody

7. Make it last

None of these principles stands on its own. For example, a city's efforts to promote informed engagement will involve outreach to diverse audiences and the effective use of technology.

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In the forward to the report, Donald J. Borut, executive director of NLC said. "At all levels of government, we need dialogue that is worthy of our great democracy. The public square should be a place where people can disagree. But it should also be a place where people unite to find common ground in deriving solutions to the nation's concerns." In the course of its research and other work on this topic, NLC has identified a number of roles and responsibilities for city leaders in promoting democratic governance. …

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