Members of the community have shared some inspiring and thoughtful commentary on civic engagement in Alexandria. This page provides a sampling from each Community Dialogue. Materials are posted in full on other pages.
April 30, 2013
"We had consensus on our ideas and suggestions for the various questions. We provided tangible suggestions for city staff to use."
"Most importantly, I think just the bringing people together is a good start. I think the people at our table were motivated and ready to act."
"We have listed some ways to improve civic engagement. We have agreed on most of the initiatives presented."
"Not me, but someone else suggested establishing a corps of neighborhood ambassadors with specific duties and city staffer to hold them accountable. Great idea!"
"The average age of those attending the forum is approximately 55? More should be done to reach out to and engage young people. Consider partnering with groups and organizations that serve and work with youth."
"La participación de todas las presentes va a tener éxito." (Everyone’s participation will bring success.)
"Youth voice was heard and represented and the importance of participation of diverse group of citizens reinforced."
January 29, 2013
"I feel good about the process this evening and thought we did well as a group to come to consensus, listen to one another, share and be supportive. Tonight was more focused, but also our second one."
"One member of the table commented that looking at the people in the room it looked like every other city meeting. If, somehow, more people that don’t normally engage with the city could come, that would be useful."
"I think the process is going well. It’s good that the process has been so transparent. I appreciate all the effort."
"We refined our ideas and clarified our thinking on several issues. We attempted to take our hopes and frustrations with process and our love of our city, and tried to formulate a better way forward."
"Opened a dialogue with a diverse group of committed citizens. Excellent collaboration."
"There was a good faith effort and lots of energy and engagement at our table. [Redacted] and [redacted] were fabulous facilitators!"
"Bundle thoughts and ideas from previous events into a concept for operation principles. Take a concrete example where civic engagement is low (or could be improved) and discuss how to operationalize and principles."
"You’ve given some residents a say in future planning, given us an opportunity to meet other concerned citizens and learn about city processes."
"There needs to be a more well-defined relationship or balance between citizens and city staff. For example, many people only feel satisfied in a process when they get their way. Why does the city hire educated, trained and experienced city staff if they are not trusted to make decisions? Compromise is a responsibility of citizens that staff can help them reach."
November 15, 2012
“We began to think differently and more sensitively about participation in process, what we can bring to the table and how that participation will enrich us as well as the community.”
“The "What's Next, Alexandria?" forum is an excellent idea from the city leaders. We need to further advertise and capitalize on its potential to resolve citizen's concerns and hold city politicians responsible.”
“You have successfully brought members from all over the community together and engaged us in a process of getting to know each other and starting to talk about things that matter.”
“We expect action, respect, impact, inclusion, explanation of decisions, community services, engagement with elected officials, responsive and accountable to our feedback. We expect a voice.”“The meeting fostered a feeling of acceptance. It made me feel committed to this process.”
“The city leaders have shown that they are receptive to listening to citizen's concerns and will try to resolve them.”
“If we are fully engaged in the process there is no ‘them’, we are all ‘us’.”
“We really need to develop a way all concerns are heard and persons not feeling like they are on a fast moving train.”
“We have accomplished the beginning of a positive, constructive dialogue to better improve our community.”
“This is a first step toward more civility and engagement.”
“In return for our efforts we expect that our team’s ideas will be heard, that there will be consensus and follow up regarding our community policies and priorities.”
“We need an implementation/action plan that is citizen led with a funding mechanism to support the effort.”
“Involve the stakeholders from the beginning and let the group shape the process.”
“I expect consistency in the process, an interactive exchange of ideas leading to clear decisions which employ the general consensus of those involved, but also measured consideration of dissenting opinions. Decisions should be actionable and implemented swiftly. Decision-makers must be held accountable.”
“I expect my ideas to be acknowledged (not necessarily accepted) and to leave feeling proud of my community. Even if my ideas are not accepted I will leave the room supporting the decisions of the group.”
“I would hope that Alexandria citizens engage with each other and decision-makers with more civility and willingness to compromise.”
“How (do we) engage the unengaged, in order to get a more representative and diverse participation?”
“Engaged citizens are honest, ready to compromise, and are part of the solution. Leave your ego at the door, open your mind and LISTEN.”
“We have to find ways to involve the people who have dismissed or given up on the process of engaging in the Democratic process.”
“As the process evolves charge (urge) people to investigate best practices and study successful initiatives that we can learn from.”
“Participate and be informed, speak intelligently and constructively, and then have a willingness to accept outcome of fair process.”
As an engaged citizen, “I am expected to be a respectful and empathetic participant. I will be active in my participation, using facts to support opinion, honoring the process and those others who participate. I will not neglect more traditional civic duty – such as voting. I will make continued effort to inform myself on a broad range of issues and bring that knowledge to the table. I will focus not only on problems but more importantly – solutions.”
We want “to feel heard and respected, and to see the impact of our effort. “
“Establish a culture of community-wide engagement and develop relationships that last beyond the meetings.”
For more information about the What's Next Alexandria Initiative, contact Jerome Fletcher at 703.746.3727 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org