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Solving Civic Problems with a Community Stakeholder Model

The Unspoken Requirement for Urban Revitalization:

Chequan A. Lewis Spring 2012 Revitalizing Americas Urban Cities

The Unspoken Requirement for Urban Revitalization: Solving Civic Problems with a Community Stakeholder Model Setting the Right Stage Ora na azu nwa. Translated in English, this centuries-old Nigerian proverb states an oft-cited principle in our discourse: It takes a village to raise a child. Though often invoked in reference to philosophies of child rearing, the core of this proverb translates effectively to the civic context as well. If it takes an entire to community to shape children in the course they should go, so too must an entire community be involved when a city undergoes the urban renewal process. Opinions abound when urban revitalization is discussed. Some people prioritize the bottom line and delivering results that will have a financial impact in an area. Others emphasize the social implications of any actions. There are even those who seek to chart a third way that encompasses both approaches just mentioned. These traditional modes of thought have some merit; however, they all pretend successful implementation of a given redevelopment plan is axiomatic. That belief rests on a deeply flawed premise- that as long as someone comes up with the right idea for an area it will work. The reality is that too much time is spent trying to lasso urban revitalization unicorns. There are no silver bullets. There are no quick fixes. There are no one size fits all solutions. Urban issues necessitate thoughtful, narrowly tailored, neighborhoodconscious approaches. Discovering Dallas In order to establish a framework of understanding, this section offers some background on Dallas history and personality. Understanding this aspect of the citys

anatomy will be helpful in understanding the stakes in play. Furthermore, it will provide some additional context for why this paper proposes the community stakeholder model as viable solution. Officially incorporated as a town in 1836, Dallas has spent over a century and a half growing into an attractive location for businesses and southerners in search of opportunity. Aggressive growth animates much of Dallas personality. When the early city wanted to be placed on the map, it sought to grow its way forward. When recessions have struck, the city seeks to grow through them. In many ways, one could say that citizens in the area look to growth as a panacea for any problems it faces. This is quite evident in mayoral elections as the city is often presented with two types of candidates: 1) the growth candidate and 2) the city services candidate. The growth candidate is exactly what he/she sounds like- they are primarily concerned with attracting more businesses, launching big projects, and raising the citys profile. The city services candidate is preeminently concerned with making good on what the city owes its residents- the efficient and effective delivery of city services like police, fire, and schools. As evidenced over the years, most voting Dallas residents seem to prefer the growth candidate. This is not to suggest that growth and city services are mutually exclusive. However, the results in past elections offer some insight into what the city thinks its priorities are. In Dallas, growth seems to trump all. This raises two Frug/Barron-style questions: 1) What kind of city is Dallas? 2) What kind of city does Dallas aspire to be? Frug and Barron shine light on four types of city profiles: 1) the Global City; 2) the Tourist City; 3) the Middle Class City; and 4) the Regional

City.1 Growth advocates are concerned with becoming a Global City- one with a large profile on the international landscape as a center of commerce. This is obvious when observing how the city has worked hard to bring in more Fortune 500 companies and to compare its economy with that of other international cities. City services advocates (who often meet defeat at the polls) are more concerned with being a stellar Middle Class City. This is evident in their conception of Dallas a place that operates for the benefit of its residents, not those who may never become residents or only visit on business. As an interesting aside, Dallas may actually be best suited to be a Regional City. As the hub of the nations fourth-largest metropolitan area (Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington), Dallas already plays an indispensable role in the national landscape. The truth of the matter is that it simply does not matter what type of city Dallas is or wants to be. Indeed, that is why this paper gives admittedly short shrift to grappling with Frug and Barrons four city futures. That discussion is only useful insofar as it animates an internal tension that exists within the Dallas community. There is a misalignment of interests between those who are routinely successful at the polls, growth advocates, and those who are not, city service advocates. In order to chart its own successful city future, Dallas must find the Aristotelian golden mean that lies between growth and services. The growth advocates have it right. Dallas must continue to grow and build in order to have a world-class city financially capable of supporting the booming area population (see city population trend below).2 But, the service advocates have it right as well. Without serving the citizens who comprise the population, Dallas cannot be a successful city. At a very basic level, resident needs must be met. These seemingly disparate interests can be
1 2

See Gerald Frug and David Barron, City Bound: How States Stifle Urban Innovation, p. 141, (2008). Graph is user image of publicly available population data from Dallas Commons digital site.

intertwined. Dallas can craft a portfolio of priorities that will propel it into a more prosperous next century.

There are many requirements to achieve this prosperity. This paper argues that there is an unspoken requirement, one that is fatally overlooked in American cities: meaningful community input. My city, Dallas, Texas, can take a harder look in the mirror on this topic as well. By developing and engaging community stakeholders, cities like Dallas can achieve sustainable gains in five touchstone areas vital to the revitalization of the 21st century American city: 1) Public Safety; 2) Appearance and Perception; 3) Education; 4) Collaborative Government; and 5) Gentrification Management. These five guideposts comprise a priorities portfolio that promotes a hospitable environment for economic

growth balanced with the delivery of services citizens demand. Citizen input in the formulation and execution of these priorities is the linchpin. Let there be no illusions; this is easier said than done. Getting the community involved in solving a tough set of issues is challenging. There are myriad questions that will arise. Who is a stakeholder? What does stakeholder participation mean? What is the right level of participation? What is the proper setting? Who should lead in a given setting? How do you reach a decision? The questions are endless. This paper has a limited aim: to argue that, despite the inherent difficulties, solving the problems that urban centers face by building and incorporating community stakeholders offers greater chances for inclusive, sustainable renewal. To that end, this paper briefly surveys five topics at work in Dallas. The aim here is to merely offer some organizing thoughts on how to move the city forward on these tough topics. In some cases, Dallas leadership already has the right idea for community involvement; so, its approach is explained. When such ideas are not evident, this paper looks to urban centers in other parts of the country for guidance. It matters not from where the ideas originate. All that matters is that they are useful. Public Safety No city can thrive unless those who inhabit and visit it feel safe when theyre there. Urban centers routinely experience trouble with crime control. Law enforcement is important because the deterrence and punishment of crime is crucial to a citys personality, real and perceived. This is best addressed through a community stakeholder model of problem solving. Implementing community-based law enforcement practices and can give

community members given a stake in developing sustainable solutions encouraging public safety. This paper will explore one route rich with opportunity. An important starting place for engaging the community in law enforcement is to tear down the traditional walls felt between urban populations and their prosecutors. Given that the chief prosecutors in many areas (district attorneys or state attorneys) are elected, local prosecutorial practices offer a ripe opportunity for engagement. A community-based approach to prosecuting shifts the role of the prosecutor from the communitys paternalistic case processor to its active partner in public safety. This philosophical shift is important conceptually and practically. Its conceptual importance lies in the powerful message it sends to the community: he/she who prosecutes in its name is a part of the community. Practically, this approach is likely to reap some resource benefits over the long-term as gains in crime reduction and community participation are realized. This is a story reinforced by Seth Williams efforts as Philadelphias District Attorney. Williams uses a community-based prosecution model that assigns prosecutors to specific geographic areas so they can get to know community groups, clergy members, business associations and town watch groups, and track crime patterns geographically. The prosecutors also manage the same cases from start to finish.3 This leads to clear and efficient channels of case management and relationship development. Both results promote more effective prosecution. There is scholarly support for this approach. According to the National District Attorneys Association's National Center for Community Prosecution, the community-based prosecuting model is a proactive, collaborative, problem-solving approach distinguished
See Marjorie Valbrun, Rethinking Criminal JusticeWhy Black Prosecutors Matter, (, (November 19, 2010).

by certain key principles: (1) recognizing the community's role in public safety; (2) engaging in problem solving; (3) establishing and maintaining partnerships; and (4) evaluating outcomes of activities.4 Another scholarly take suggests there are six key operational elements of community-based prosecuting: 1) a focus on problem-solving, public safety, and qualityof-life issues; 2) inclusion of the communitys input into the criminal justice system, including the courtroom (e.g., admission of community impact statements to be considered at sentencing); 3) partnerships with the prosecutor, law enforcement, public and private agencies, and the community; 4) varied prevention, intervention, and enforcement methods (e.g., use of tools other than criminal prosecution to address problems); 5) a clearly defined focus area, which has traditionally been defined as a targeted geographic area; and 6) an integrated approach involving both reactive (e.g., prosecuting crimes identified by the police) and proactive strategies (e.g., anticipatory actions aimed at addressing problems at their root cause).5 These different takes emphasize an important theme that animates communitybased prosecuting: prosecutors can become effective problem solvers by developing substantive relationships with communities and agencies to serve targeted areas. Institutional investment in the community opens up a range of strategic and tactical approaches to creating a safe environment that are more difficult, if not impossible, to pursue without community partnerships. One such approach is geographic targeting. By working with community groups, prosecutors are able to understand the backgrounds of

Charles Hynes, The Evolving Prosecutor: Broadening The Vision, Expanding The Role, 24 Fall Crim. Just 1, 2 (2009). M. Elaine Nugent, The Changing Nature of Prosecution: Community Prosecution vs. Traditional Prosecution Approaches , (February 2004).
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key actors in crime waves, gain insight into what drives neighborhood sectarian violence, and develop solutions to address surface and sub-surface level problems. This also allows prosecutors, in the problem-solving model, to prioritize the most pressing community problem-areas and then pursue strategies that extinguish the full extent of the p roblem (be it people, places, or products). Working with community groups also gives prosecutor offices credibility with the citizens who can provide this valuable information. Perhaps more importantly, this can even help create an environment in which those citizens seek out the prosecutors to share critical information that makes being reactive to crimes identified by police and being proactive with brewing problems not yet on the radar much easier. Though there may be a necessary outlay of time and funds to build this model of communal participation, it is easy to imagine how it may pay dividends over the long-term as investigation costs decrease due to more immediate information and prosecution costs decrease due to reductions in crime. Collaborative partnerships allow a focus on identifying and implementing lasting solutions to crime and disorder problems through innovative problem-solving strategies aimed at addressing the conditions that allow more serious crime to flourish.6 Prosecutorial offices report many long-term changes spurred by the use of community-based strategies. Among these changes are: reduced crime and fear of crime, reduced nuisances, reduced calls for police services, increased prosecutorial and police accountability, increased community involvement in neighborhoods, increased victim

See The Changing Nature at p. 33.

satisfaction, increased public confidence in the justice system, and reduced costs due to coordinated tactics.7 Dallas has taken steps in this direction but still lags behind Philadelphias efforts. The Dallas City Attorney has a dedicated staff member serving as the Chief Community Prosecutor. The commitment to the public availing itself of this resource must be questioned however as the community prosecution website is sparse and under construction.8 The Dallas County District Attorney, Craig Watkins (the first elected black DA in Texas history), is probably best suited to implement community-based initiatives. Watkins office has a robust community relations agenda- its hosts Make a Difference Day, works with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and coordinates with the American /Red Cross Blood Drive. Impressively, it also conducts a Citizen Prosecutor Academy, a 10-week comprehensive educational program designed to familiarize citizens with the criminal justice system and the DAs operations.9 However, Dallas still lacks a formalized, substantive communitybased approach to its prosecutions. Using Seth Williams efforts as a starting model can get Dallas on the right track. Appearance and Perception Physical appearance is perhaps just as important to a citys personality as crime control. This is because the visible environment impacts how residents, visitors, and investors feel about spending time and resources in a city. This in turn impacts a city s perception- the narrative told about what its like to live, work, and play in a place. So often,
See the Milwaukee Countys District Attorney website: ( 8 See the Dallas County District Attorney website: 9 See Dallas County District Attorney Press Release, January 12, 2012:


people look at an urban area and determine it is dilapidated. They fix it up. It becomes dilapidated again. We have seen the vicious cycle play out in many communities. By engaging the community in the mission to alter appearance and perception, the cycle might be avoided altogether. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings understands the importance of appearance and perception. In early 2012, he rolled out an initiative (entitled Grow South) that focuses on improving the most dilapidated and underdeveloped areas of the city. A central tenet of his plan is instituting a culture of clean in the City of Dallas. His commitment to this topic is obvious because many of his public remarks over the last two months have trumpeted the need for a cleaner image. Dallas had the makings of the right idea in 2010. During that time, the Dallas-Forth Worth area was preparing to host Super Bowl XLV. In order to present itself as a modern global city on the rise, not one covered in spray paint,10 Dallas officials tabbed a prominent local lawyer as its graffiti czar.11 The graffiti czar was charged with leading the City of Dallas Graffiti Abatement Program. Most importantly, the czar would coordinate the efforts of local businesses to pick a day when they would sponsor the clean up of the areas near their respective businesses. The brilliance of this idea is that it engages private businesses in the project of cleaning up public spaces. The businesses do this because they recognize that their individual fortunes are tied to a larger communal fortune. Even still, the city must go one step further.

See Dallas Morning News City Hall Blog (quoting then-Mayor Tom Leppert in December 2010): . 11 See id.


Everyday citizens of Dallas must be engaged in this massive facelift as well. Just as businesses recognize the impact nearby vandalism has on its bottom line, so too must citizens realize that local eyesores (litter, vandalism, graffiti, etc.) debase their own living experiences as well. This is a particularly tough sell because it requires widespread buy-in to counteract the status quo. The hearts and minds of residents must fundamentally change to truly eradicate these problems. The city can work with communities to get people invested in the physical appearance of their neighborhoods in a contagious way. In 2010, Dallas held a total of 25 community clean up events ranging from graffiti wipe out days to mowing vacant lots. Again, this is the right idea. The next level of effectiveness must engage residents more fully, however. Dallas launched a new website ( aimed at bringing more residents into the fold. The city must build on the momentum it has created by empowering residents to plan their own neighborhood-based events. Rather than planning scores of events and telling people to come, the city can provide resident-leaders with resources and allow them to plan the events themselves. The picture below is an example of one such event.

Group of citizen-volunteers cleans up Dallas community center


In February 2012, a community-based organization named S.L.A.N.T. 45 (Service Learning Adventures in North Texas) organized a group of children and parents to clean up a West Dallas community center. This event was supported by the city and enjoyed historic turnout for a clean up event, even attracting the human/financial capital support of Bank of America. Perhaps the most special thing about this event was that all the work done to the center was designed and planned by the kids who frequent the center. By empowering these kids to identify a need for physical improvement and act on it, S.L.A.N.T. and the City of Dallas have likely lit a flame of consciousness under these members of Dallas next generation of leaders. This event serves as model for how to create community stakeholders and engage them in the business of preserving the physical appearance of the city. Dallas must replicate this model widely to usher in Mayor Rawlings culture of clean. That new culture will finally create the perception the city craves. Education Succinctly stated, Dallas public schools are struggling. Students lag behind their peers in suburban school districts and private schools. Historically-important high schools lack steady leadership. Even the Dallas Independent School District (the body in charge of the public schools) suffers from talent poaching and turnover at its top levels. The numbers also paint a concerning picture. The graph below12 highlights a fundamental issue: far too many Dallas students do not stay in school and/or perform well enough for promotion. Only a little more than half (~54%) of Dallas ISD high school students were promoted in Academic Year 2009-2010. As concerning as this number is, it is actually the highest that Dallas ISD has experienced since AY 1999-2000. This simply will


As seen in a 2011 study of Dallas Public Schools, found at:


not do. Much has been written about the causes of and remedies for poor student performance. A recurrent theme in nearly all the literature is parental involvement. Parents taking on an active role in the educational environment is a crucial nexus to the central argument of this paper.

Dallas ISD has recently started a very useful initiative aimed at integrating parents in the local community into the decision-making process. The Dallas ISD Citizens Budget Review Commission, initially formed in the spring of 2011, is charged with making budget recommendations to the districts administration. The commission is comprised of twelve individuals, nine of which are appointed by members of the board. The tenth appointee is named by the superintendent and chairs the meetings. There are two other representatives from the district, both of whom supervise school principals and help provide perspective to the commission.13


From the Dallas Independent School Districts website:


The CBRC is an impressive step towards the direct involvement of citizens in the educational process. However, this still lends itself to not reaching the sectors of the community that need the most involvement. One can imagine a world in which the small cadre of parents serving on CBRC comes from an elite class not truly representative of the concerns of district families. To create a class of community stakeholder-parents, Dallas must go deeper. The National Center for School Engagement is setting such an example.14 The NCSE has adopted Joyce Weinsteins Framework of Six Types of Involvement. The fifth and sixth types of involvement, Decision Making (#5) and Collaboration with the Community (#6), speak directly to what Dallas ISD should pursue. Appendix A (at the end of the paper) shows a more detailed breakdown of these two Epsteinian principles. With a renewed focus on these two ideas, Dallas can activate community engagement in its educational processes like never before. It simply must have the courage and conscientiousness to do so. Collaborative Government Another challenge that often faces urban cities in need of renewal is mutual apathy between marginalized citizens and their government. More than just an enthusiasm gap, these cities suffer an engagement gap. One way to activate community engagement is through neighborhood associations. There is a syllogistic nexus between neighborhood associations and engaged governance: when people strongly identify with groups, they gravitate towards conditions that are best for the broader community; neighborhood


See Judith Martinez, Parental Involvement: Key to Student Achievement, (Feb. 23, 2004).


associations provide fertile ground for group identification; so, neighborhood groups help create an environment where citizens collectively pursue good living conditions.15 Neighborhood associations provide a forum for face-to-face interaction, create a space for policy discussion often unavailable to marginalized community members, and help forge a sense of shared purpose in an area. As these citizens feel increasingly interwoven into the fabric of a community, so too does their sense of civic efficacy. To be clear, the argument is not that simply sprouting neighborhood associations will the change the psyche of an entire city. However, reposing power in institutions more within the reach of citizens can stimulate their interest in and the use of it. St. Paul, Minnesota offers an interesting model that illustrates this point. Prioritizing face-to-face interactions, St. Paul imagines that neighborhoods are the primary agents of political dialogue and citizen influence. As such, the city emphasizes placing power in the hands at this level. St. Paul is divided into seventeen District Councils, each elected by residents of the council area. Every council has a city-paid community organizer and neighborhood office, but virtually all other efforts come from volunteers or additional funds raised by the council itself. The District Councils have substantial powers, including jurisdiction over zoning, authority over the distribution of various goods and services, and substantial influence over capital expenditures. A citywide Capital Improvement Budget Committee, composed solely of neighborhood representatives, is responsible for the initiation and priority ranking of most capital development projects in the city. Community centers, crime prevention efforts, an early notification system for all major city agencies, and a district newspaper in virtually every council area help to make the system one of the most coherent and comprehensive of any city.16 The St. Paul model is inspiring and instructive. It vests meaningful powers in organizations that are close and accessible to the residents. Zoning can determine who may

15 16

See J. Berry, K. Portney, and K. Thomson, The Rebirth of Urban Democracy, pp. 10-14, 294-296 (1993). Id. at 13.


come or stay. Service delivery is one of the most impactful ways residents experience government action. Capital expenditures dictate what will be improved, built, or allowed to decay. When citizens see that these organizations are vehicles for the exercise of real power, they are more likely to invest energy in them. As this happens, citizens have a unique space to mutually affect their living environment by engaging one another through the organ of government. Participation in these systems tends to increa se confidence in government and sense of community.17 The Rebirth of Urban Democracy (referenced in footnote 16) declares that a city should not even entertain such a citizen participation program unless it is willing to meet three conditions. First, exclusive powers must be turned over to the citizen participation structures.18 Planning and advising is not enough. The structures must have real power, as seen in St. Paul, to allocate goods and services and make zoning decisions in communities. Put more plainly, these organizations must be integrated in the normal function of the citys administrative structure.19 Second, accompanying such structural changes must be an administrative plan that creates sanctions and rewards for city hall administrators who must interact with the neighborhood groups.20 City personnel must be forced to buy into the program and have their fortunes tied to the success of the citizen participation system. Third, citizen participation systems must be citywide in nature.21 In order to be legitimate, the system must be operating in poor and affluent neighborhoods alike. Some aspects of this idea have already begun in Southern Dallas. Ten teams, of 13 community stakeholders each, were dedicated to one of the unique subsections of Southern
Id. at 294. Id. at 294-95. 19 See id. 20 Id. at 295. 21 Id.
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Dallas (depicted in the map below), designed according to historical, natural, and economic boundaries. Each team is challenged to develop strategic plans for its dedicated area based on the following topics: economic development policy, small business, and finance/funding sources.22 This approach has allowed for a narrow tailoring of solutions, by planning area, which has begun to make a meaningful impact in Dallas.

As laudable as this innovation has been, there is still much to be done. Refracting this effort through the lens offered by The Rebirth of Urban Democracy, it is lacking in three ways: 1) these groups still do not have anything more than planning power; 2) there is no evidence city hall administrators must work with these groups; and 3) this effort is primarily based in Southern Dallas, not the other affluent areas of Dallas. Mayor Rawlings has indicated that he would like to add at least 30 neighborhood associations throughout Dallas in the next year. The effectiveness of these organizations will depend on how much they activate the energy and effort of Dallas residents.

See Southern Dallas Task Forces Interim Team Report, p. 11 (2009).


Gentrification Management Gentrification is the ubiquitous topic in urban renewal. As cities seek to move into the next century, they often must raze blighted areas and replace them with more urbane scenery to attract a new wave of residents, visitors, and investors. The targeted areas of gentrification are often poorer minority neighborhoods that are ripe for redevelopment on the cheap. One major issue is that the redevelopment rarely takes the fortunes and desires of existing residents into account. The result is that long time residents are displaced by price or by feeling like strangers in a now-foreign neighborhood. This paper does not argue that gentrification is evil. Rather, it argues that is an unavoidable stage in the life cycle of cities that refuse to die. But, it does not have to operate to the exclusion of residents interests. The gentrification process can be better managed to match community needs by integrating the community into the planning process. No plan is perfect. However, Dallas has offered the country an impressive example with its forwardDallas! initiative. The goal of forwardDallas! was to engage local stakeholders (everyday citizens and business leaders) in the project of developing a comprehensive vision of what Dallas should look like in the coming years in key areas like land use, housing, economic development, transportation and the environment. The Comprehensive Plan was designed to provide the blueprint for implementation actions and act as a guide for the Dallas City Council regarding allocation of City resources. The plan focused growth where it is wanted and needed and protects stable areas of the City. The plan also addresses convenient access to shopping, jobs for more people and providing more housing and travel options for residents of Dallas.23


City of Dallas, forwardDallas! Comprehensive Plan: Vision, (June 2006).


To garner the proper cross-section of opinion, the City of Dallas held hands-on workshops throughout the city for residents to share their ideas about how Dallas should grow. Participants made recommendations as to where future homes and jobs should be located, what transportation/transit/roadway needs exist, and where open space should be preserved. The input gained through these workshops formed the foundation for the plan. At this phase, participants were also surveyed so the city could develop a picture of the top concerns of city stakeholders (results graphed below). Based on the workshop results, model plans (called growth scenarios) were developed providing an overview of how future growth may affect different areas of the city. The different scenarios provided examples of what the future of Dallas could look like under varying circumstances. Residents and community leaders indicated their preferences for each growth scenario, and, in response, the City of Dallas crafted a comprehensive, long-range plan incorporating strategies to implement this common vision for the future.24

Survey Respondents' Top Priorities for the City of Dallas.


See forwardDallas!.


Six key policy initiatives emerged from the plan: 1) Enhance the economy ; 2) Make quality housing more accessible; 3) Create strong and healthy neighborhoods; 4) Enhance transportation systems; 5) Ensure environmental sustainability; and 6) Encourage new development patterns.25 These initiatives should guide Dallas as it moves ahead. They properly balance growth with preservation and business attraction with basic citizen needs. Most importantly, they represent the collective expression of the preferences, priorities, and passions of an engaged citizenry. Using forwardDallas! to create the space for citizens (of all classes) and businesses to reach these conclusions through collaboration is the plans true brilliance. Applying the Nehemiah Principle: Lighting the Path Ahead It is important to acknowledge in this space that there is a giant elephant in the room with the community stakeholder model. The success of such a citizen-centric concept is entirely dependent on citizen participation. Indeed, this dependency may be this ideas greatest flaw. After all, if citizens will not engage how can they become community stakeholders? If they do not become community stakeholders who will be this new breed of collaborator that traditional power wielders must consult? The risk of this whole idea collapsing might be high. However, it is also worth questioning how one really knows that the risk is real? The dissenter will point to things like low voter turnout rates, empty town hall meetings, and low levels of civic efficacy across the country. These cautionary tales are especially evident in the very communities this plan is aimed at bringing into the civic experience. However,


See forwardDallas!.


this plan imagines the world differently. This plan imagines that the low participation problem is a chicken-egg problem that might be misunderstood. What if the real reason citizen participation is so low is because there is nothing for citizens to actually connect with? Voting often comes down to picking one stranger over another. Town hall meetings are often hollow forums to discuss matters that have already been decided. People are insightful. They learn to see dog and pony shows from a mile away. When they develop this discerning ability, they disengage. To counteract this status quo, the community engagement exercise must be real. There must be real issues at stake. There must be real power available for community members to use. There also must be genuine avenues for community voices to be heard at the highest levels. In short, community stakeholders must be created and deployed in the task of rebuilding broken American cities. Former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke addressed the community-based rebuilding concept in the most compelling terms I have ever heard.26 Mayor Schmoke declares that leaders who are serious about rebuilding cities must apply the Nehemiah Principle. Nehemiah was an Old Testament prophet who sought to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and its protective walls. The city had fallen victim to distress, waste, and discord. Nehemiah called on the people of Jerusalem to work together (with friends and strangers alike) to rebuild their city. Nehemiah engaged families from all classes. Recognizing different talents allowed for different contributions, he encouraged each family to step up and do their own


Based on his remarks to our class on 3/29/12 in Austin North.


part, even if small, to revitalize Jerusalem. Everyone was included, and in just 52 days, their collaborative effort had rebuilt the citys wall and gates.27 Revitalizing Americas urban cities will require a special type of leadership. Some will want to be Moses-types that deliver a city to the Promised Land with a set of instructions. Others will want to be David-types that conquer Goliath-sized problems with personal courage and faith. However, the project of urban revitalization will require modern-day Nehemiahs. These leaders will change cities by galvanizing the people who live in them. They will encourage citizens to pick up the tools and talents they possess to make whatever contribution they can. Piece-by-piece. Person-by-person. Everyone can collaborate to rebuild the Jerusalems of America. To achieve this dream, cities need leaders and policies that transform everyday citizens into community stakeholders. Grand plans are simply not enough. Neither are grand ambitions. These concepts are perhaps necessary but not sufficient. Meaningful citizen participation is the silent bridge from the decaying city to the thriving metropolis. By engaging community stakeholders in the project of managing the civic portfolio of priorities, Dallas and its peer cities can be genuinely revitalized.


See Book of Nehemiah, Chapter 6,Verse 15.



Include parents in school decisions, developing parent leaders and representatives.
Sample Practices Active PTA/PTO or other parent organizations, advisory councils, or committees (e.g., curriculum, safety, personnel) for parent leadership and participation. Independent advocacy groups to lobby and work for school reform and improvements. District-level councils and committees for family and community involvement. Information on school or local elections for school representatives. Networks to link all families with parent representatives. Challenges Include parent leaders from all racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and other groups in the school. Offer training to enable leaders to serve as representatives of other families, with input from and return of information to all parents. Include students (along with parents) in decision-making groups. Redefinitions "Decision making" to mean a process of partnership, of shared views and actions toward shared goals, not just a power struggle between conflicting ideas. Parent "leader" to mean a real representative, with opportunities and support to hear from and communicate with other families.


Identify and integrate resources and services from the community to strengthen school programs, family practices, and student learning and development.
Sample Practices Information for students and families on community health, cultural, recreational, social support, and other programs or services Information on community activities that link to learning skills and talents, including summer programs for students. Service integration through partnerships involving school; civic, counseling, cultural, health, recreation, and other agencies and organizations; and businesses. Service to the community by students, families, and schools (e.g., recycling, art, music, drama, and other activities for seniors or others). Participation of alumni in school programs for students. Challenges Solve turf problems of responsibilities, funds, staff, and locations for collaborative activities. Inform families of community programs for students, such as mentoring, tutoring, business partnerships. Assure equity of opportunities for students and families to participate in community programs or to obtain services. Match community contributions with school goals, integrate child and family services with education. Redefinitions "Community" to mean not only the neighborhoods where students' homes and schools are located but also any neighborhoods that influence their learning and development. "Community" rated not only by low or high social or economic qualities, but also by strengths and
As articulated by Judith Martinez. Parental Involvement: Key to Student Achievement. Feb. 23, 2004. Citing Epsteins Framework of Six Types of Involvement at pp. 4-6.


talents to support students, families, and schools. "Community" means all who are interested in and affected by the quality of education, not just those with children in the schools.