Toolbox of Resources for Citizen Involvement
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
…Margaret Mead, US anthropologist (1901- 1978)
View or Print PDF version of our Get Organized Flyer!
There is power in numbers and collective action. A single voice might not persuade a government body or organization to take action on an issue but six voices might. The first step in participatory democracy is to show up.
Next, GATHER INFORMATION
- Define the issue - Example: rid 82nd Ave of prostitution activity; stop the city from capping the Mt. Tabor reservoirs; narrow the scope of the Columbia River Crossing proposal. What do you want to happen/change?
- Determine who has the power to make a decision on your issue and what the formal decision-making process is.
- Identify the scale of the issue - one street, a whole neighborhood, city-wide, regional, state, federal.
- Do some homework – Google experts in the field, gather relevant documents, check how other cities have dealt with this issue, review regulations, laws, ordinances, i.e., what journalists call “backgrounding.”
- Identify opponents and understand their interests
- Join forces with existing groups like a neighborhood association or other community-based group
- Form your own group
- Seek out influential bloggers with similar interests who might support your cause or at least blog about it and publish contact info.
- Make phone calls & develop phone trees to find additional supporters
- Utilize the internet (email lists, Yahoo group, Facebook) to solicit support
- Thank people who help
GET THE WORD OUT, EDUCATE THE PUBLIC
- Develop a clear, easy to understand message, one that clearly states the problem, the solution and specifies what action needs to be taken to achieve the solution
- Set up a line of communication utilizing phone trees, social networks, email lists, etc.
- Create a website
- Appoint a spokesperson & develop a media strategy
- Get list of reporters at community/neighborhood and major newspapers and at the TV stations (contact ONI for some of its media lists)
- Keep them in the loop about your group’s activities and events, send them any news releases (building personal relationships with reporters always helps)
- Focus on those media that serve the scope your issue (e.g.) neighborhood, citywide, statewide, etc.
- Make presentations to other community groups
- Tell your story—how you and others are affected by the issue—to elected officials or others who have decision-making power over your issue (city, county, Metro, state, federal)
- Understand the decision-making process from start to finish at each of the above levels of government
GATHER RESOURCES/RAISE FUNDS TO GET JOB DONE
- Identify necessary resources (cash, in-kind contributions of materials or services)
- Develop plan for raising resources
- Direct appeal for funds/services; flyers, website, fundraising events.
Portland’s Community Engagement System:
Portland City Government
Oregon State Government