Interesting discussions… I have found that generally citizens don’t know that their local government has been created based (at least here in NJ and I suppose it applies to most places) on a statute and a charter. Most, but not all, pieces of legislation start with a purpose section. Too often people get lost in the details of what their elected officials say (or don’t say), and how government can fix the problem du jour. They lose sight of the purpose of government in the first place and their personal societal role.
I second Andy’s thought about helping people realize their role is more than casting that vote every xx number of years… or worse, not voting at all. I’ve struggled with that throughout the various citizen group or government roles I’ve had. Educating, exciting and empowering people is a tough go, but the changes brought about through social media, I think, have raised the attention bar.
One further note: I’ve been involved in government at some level for almost 30 years. The NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) factor is a greater incentive for involvement than anything else I’ve seen at the local level. In most cases, some issue reared its ugly head and someone stood up. Mostly, though, people are so busy living their lives, they don’t see how they have time to get involved.
Thanks, John, for the invite. Looking forward to the discussions.
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