Derek Neighbors

The more I learn, the less I know.

Community Gangplank Connecting Citizens

By Derek Neighbors, Published on March 16, 2013

There is a wealth of information out there on connecting people, human behavior and civic engagement. The problem is how do you use it in the face of changing world. A world that is adapting to technology at a rapid pace. The Monitor Institute put together Connected Citizens: The Power, Peril and Potential of Networks for the Knight Foundation. I strongly recommend if you are in the social change, connecting communities or civic engagement arena to check it out.

At Gangplank our work lines up very well with the model put forward to help in connecting citizens and mobilizing them to action. In a nutshell here are some good practices.

Listen to and consult the crowds.

Actively listen to both online and offline conversations and openly ask for advice.

  • Make participation fast and easy.
  • Show you’re listening.
  • Develop a clear contract with participants and abide by it.

Design for serendipity.

Create environments, in person and online, where helpful connections can form.

  • Make it easy to enter.
  • Build trust through repeat interactions.
  • Design the space, NOT the outcomes.

Bridge differences.

Deliberately connect people with different perspectives.

  • Develop systems for establishing reputation and trust.
  • Use influence to recruit diverse participation and catalyze bridging.
  • Make it FUN!!!

Catalyze mutual support.

Help people directly help each other.

  • Leverage existing and underutilized resources.
  • Provide enough structure for immediate benefit and enough openness for new opportunity.
  • Build trust in the system.

Provide handrails for collective action.

Give enough direction for individuals to take effective and coordinated action.

  • Give clear instructions for action.
  • Make it gratifying.
  • Build platforms that structure individual contributions into something greater.
  • Develop leadership.

  • We do some of these things really well. We suck at some of them. We have a number of things underway to start leading in this area. A better Arizona relies on strong citizen involvement to move us forward. If this stuff is interesting to you, join me in trying to figure out ways to make Arizona better.