public participation

"Public" Participation: A Look at Central West

Researchers at the UNC School of Government recently released the results of a survey (PDF) they conducted about Chapel Hill’s Central West Small Area Plan process. You might have seen some press and spin about this survey and the comments participants provided in the survey. But before we start extrapolating from these data, it’s important to make sure we understand who provided feedback on the Central West process and how those individuals compare to our community at large.

Making this comparison is particularly important to assess and understand the effectiveness of public participation efforts in our local government. After all, if public participation is primarily coming from specific groups of people and other groups are being left out of the process, that’s not true public participation or engagement -- it’s the privileging of certain groups at the expense of the rest of our community.

So let’s take a look at the demographic data of the Central West survey participants compared to the 2010 Census data for the town of Chapel Hill. Here’s what the age and race data look like:

Solarize Carrboro kickoff

Back in October I'd posted about a petition to grow more solar in Carrboro. Thanks to your help, we've worked with the Town of Carrboro and the NC Solar Center to create Solarize Carrboro, a non-profit project making it simple and affordable to go solar now. In our pre-launch period, more than 100 people have signed up for free solar assessments.  Our kickoff event is on Wednesday, April 2, at 7pm in Carrboro Town Hall. You can RSVP on facebook. Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

UNC releases report analyzing public participation in Chapel Hill 2020

Chapel Hill Town Council Adopts Comprehensive Plan

Unsurprisingly, the Chapel Hill Town Council unanimously (I think) adopted the Chapel Hill 2020 comprehensive plan earlier tonight. Despite the objections of many citizens on a number of fronts and the reluctance of some of the council members themselves, the process will now exit the extensive community input phase and enter a period of “continued engagement.” 

Though it’s unclear at this point what form that community involvement will take—from what the planning staff said tonight it appears it will mostly be small area meetings—it’s clear that if nothing else, the process has stirred people to get involved in ways that may have not been before.

Voices of Action Event at Chapel Hill Public Library

A free and public event exploring civic engagement and social justice issues is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, May 20, at the Chapel Hill Public Library's Program Space in University Mall across from Alfredo's Pizza. Please share the EVENT FLIER.

"Voices of Action: Translating Words into a Movement" is organized by the Chapel Hill Public Library and the Town of Chapel Hill Justice in Action Committee. The public is invited to attend and participate in an interactive workshop and discussion to consider questions such as "What makes you want to act?" "How do you engage?" and "How can your voice be powerful?" The purpose of this event is to encourage creative expression of opinion and support participants as they recognize the power of words and find their individual voices.

The event will be facilitated by the Sacrificial Poets (http://sacrificialpoets.com), North Carolina's premier youth poetry organization. You don't have to be a poet or even write poetry to attend. If you appreciate spoken word, want to learn more, or you just have something to say about social justice, LGBT rights, Occupy, racism, fracking, environmentalism, immigration reform, or a host of other issues, this program is for you.

"We are excited to be involved because librarians are advocates of intellectual freedom," said Maggie Hite, head of circulation services. "And our library is a trusted, safe space for civic engagement."

Many residents are more comfortable expressing divergent ideas at libraries because they are neutral places that advance knowledge through freedom of expression and critical inquiry, Hite said. The Chapel Hill Public Library supports the idea that civic reflection builds community connections.

Formed by the Town Council, the role of the Justice in Action Committee is to give voice to issues and concerns regarding race and power in Chapel Hill and the surrounding community; and to educate the Chapel Hill community through workshops and seminars on issues of racism, diversity and inclusiveness. The committee meets at 6 p.m. on the first Thursday of most months at Chapel Hill Town Hall. For more information, contact samathryn@gmail.com. For more information about Sunday's program, see www.chapelhillpubliclibrary.org or contact mhite@townofchapelhill.org.

Date: 

Sunday, May 20, 2012 -
3:00pm to 5:00pm

Location: 

Chapel Hill Public Library's Program Space, University Mall

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