h3. The Urban Conservancy’s Civic Engagement Project
!>/projects/images/secondline-cowbell.jpg! Since 2001, The Urban Conservancy has been providing the citizens of New Orleans with a means of engaging in meaningful public dialogue about issues facing the community. Our research, education, and outreach programs provide the community with accurate information as well as tools for communicating with each other and with political leaders. While government and business leaders often provide opportunities for members of the public to comment upon issues and plans, the challenge lies in ensuring that the input provided by the public is incorporated into public policy.
For New Orleanians, the challenges of maintaining a voice in public policy have increased exponentially in the wake of hurricane Katrina. Policy makers have begun meeting and planning the future of the city. Decisions made early in the process will have significant impact on all the communities that make up New Orleans. Yet there exists no effective mechanism for disseminating information to the dispersed people of the city nor is their any mechanism for gathering the thoughts and desires of the people of New Orleans and transmitting them back to the decision makers.
The highly dispersed nature of the audience coupled with the fact that most national news organizations will steadily lose interest in the rebuilding process means that creative solutions need to be employed to ensure that the residents of New Orleans have a voice in setting priorities, in the strategic planning process, in budget priorities, and in managing the performance of our elected officials. There need to be genuine and institutional connections to implementation, budget, and accountability to ensure that their input is translated into actual programs. The Urban Conservancy is uniquely positioned to bridge this information gap and act as a conduit for information that informs residents, values their input and actively engages them in the process of rebuilding, from a variety of perspectives.