Tap Our People Power!

by Tom Vellenga | Apr 03, 2013
| 2 Comments

Summary:

St. Paul enjoys several nascent civic empowerment initiatives. Yet they are confined to a few specific organizations, schools, demographic groups, and online communities. With the Forever Saint Paul grant, the City could embrace the wisdom of the civic empowerment movement and launch and sustain civic activism as a municipal venture across the City, in every urban village, for decades. Using existing small programs, Tap People Power could bring existing strategies, curricula, and trainers to community institutions including community councils, community groups, schools, houses of worship, and social and human service agencies. Trainers would develop coaches. Coaches and existing volunteers would find and work with people in two ways:

A. Those already seeking some social or human service, education, or other service.

B. Door- to-door invitations to attend a community gathering very close by, at which attendees could offer their suggestions for community improvement. Such gatherings could lead to an offer to coach neighbors on:

i.) rallying to one or two top priority projects to improve their immediate neighborhood and

ii.) organizing their project to bring it to fruition.

Working with the networks and/or cohorts, coaches would combine coaching in civic empowerment (why civic activism is vital and in our self-interest), in community organizing, and on the community project itself. Finally, coaches would help build both formal and informal structures and processes for sustaining that same level of civic activism.

The results:

1) sustained networks of newly active St. Paulites and
2) the results of their own community improvement projects.

About You

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About You

First Name

Tom

Last Name

Vellenga

City

St. Paul

County

Ramsey

Country

United States, MN

Website (if you have one)

Names of others who helped contribute to my idea

How did you hear about the Forever Saint Paul Challenge?

Email from The St. Paul Foundation

About Your Organization (if applicable)

Organization Name (if applicable)

Heartland Democracy

Organization Phone

612-817-8953

Organization Address

2091 Lincoln Ave.

City

St. Paul

Organization Country

United States, MN, Ramsey County

Your idea

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Title of your idea

Tap Our People Power!

Give us the highlights of your idea for making Saint Paul great (2,000 characters maximum or approx. 250 words)

St. Paul enjoys several nascent civic empowerment initiatives. Yet they are confined to a few specific organizations, schools, demographic groups, and online communities. With the Forever Saint Paul grant, the City could embrace the wisdom of the civic empowerment movement and launch and sustain civic activism as a municipal venture across the City, in every urban village, for decades. Using existing small programs, Tap People Power could bring existing strategies, curricula, and trainers to community institutions including community councils, community groups, schools, houses of worship, and social and human service agencies. Trainers would develop coaches. Coaches and existing volunteers would find and work with people in two ways:
A. Those already seeking some social or human service, education, or other service.
B. Door- to-door invitations to attend a community gathering very close by, at which attendees could offer their suggestions for community improvement. Such gatherings could lead to an offer to coach neighbors on:
i.) rallying to one or two top priority projects to improve their immediate neighborhood and
ii.) organizing their project to bring it to fruition.
Working with the networks and/or cohorts, coaches would combine coaching in civic empowerment (why civic activism is vital and in our self-interest), in community organizing, and on the community project itself. Finally, coaches would help build both formal and informal structures and processes for sustaining that same level of civic activism.
The results:
1) sustained networks of newly active St. Paulites and
2) the results of their own community improvement projects.

Website address (if applicable)

Innovation

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What makes your idea different or unexpected? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

IF St. Paul launched an initiative such as Tap Our People Power, it would be the first large city in the nation, if not the world, to do so. Traditional community development initiatives focus on large infrastructure, capital-intensive projects, landscape, private businesses and public works projects, all of which are crucial. Tap Our People Power would demonstrate and release a surprising cascade of ideas, expertise, community pride, hope, and both personal and community progress. It attacks 21st century challenges with some very old strategies: the people of the village pitching in to solve problems together.

Impact

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This Entry is about (Issues)

How will your idea make a difference in Saint Paul? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

Heretofore, large cities have grappled with scale: it is impossible to knit together the personal aspirations of every resident when a city possesses more than 250,000 residents. At present, civic activism resides largely in affluent, highly educated areas. If properly implemented, Tap Our People Power would hold the potential to bring transformative revitalization to all areas of the city, to spark local economic resurgence, and to give St. Paul an international claim to fame. If St. Paul cultivates community involvement across the city in small urban villages, the metro area will blossom in a thousand untold ways.

Sustainability

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Why do you think people will recognize or remember your idea after it comes to life? How might it inspire others to do something similar in their community? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

Tens of thousands of St. Paulites are an untapped resource: they are not engaged in improving their community, yet they have boundless potential to do so. Civic uninvolvement goes hand in hand with all the major socio-economic challenges. Social scientists have demonstrated a high correlation between high civic engagement and virtuous spirals upward in the social-economic indicators. If Tap People Power gave St. Paulites the ability to revitalize their communities and build meaning in their own lives at the same time, it would make the City an international model for the century.