City hall isn’t so much a public policy factory as a switching yard, where ideas come in from the outside and are acted on. So where do big public policy ideas originate in your city? And what happens to them as they move along the tracks? This could be a rich source for your reporting, and an eye-opening series of stories for your readers.
Forget about the NIMBYs vs. greedy developers showdowns. The real stories in local government are about efforts to create more interesting and attractive urban environments, and the people involved in these efforts. Some are elected officials or city workers, but many aren’t. They’re people in neighborhoods doing things that are slightly unusual, such as walking, biking, or taking buses to work . . . or restoring old homes.
If you want to get things done in communities, it’s critical to have public opinion on your side. But if public opinion is against you at the outset, is there a way to change it? Let’s ask the master.
Civic progress is neither a system nor a process; it’s both. And the door between the two is “the opportunity.” Seeing that opportunity and the path that leads to community improvement is the most creative thing that civic leaders do.
Some of the changes we see in cities just make old processes more efficient. But some will have a much deeper impact, and places that apply old ways of thinking to completely new challenges will be making a big mistake.