WELCOME TO THE RESOURCE PAGE FOR OUR CROWDSOURCED CONVERSATION FORUM ON THE TOPIC OF CIVIC ENGAGEMENT!
On Wednesday, October 26, 2022, approximately 40 Heights residents gathered at the Fellowship Hall in Disciples Christian Church to participate in a discussion-based forum where small groups engaged in conversation about the importance and role of civic engagement. Special thank you to Councilman Tony Cuda and Jen Holland (Reaching Heights, CH-UH PTA, Building Heights) for their opening remarks!
While every group had sparkling dialogue around why civic engagement matters to them, how they first took steps to get involved in the community, and how to encourage others (especially younger generations) to get involved as well, we recognize that our event isn’t intended to “solve” anything, but, rather to spark ideas, to plant seeds, and to connect Heights residents with each other and build community.
A few suggested highlights and action steps that came out of each group’s discussion:
BLUE GROUP: Encourage more face-to-face meetups and conversations. Bridge the divide between the schools and the community to get more students and their families involved. Maybe a book club focused on Susie Kaeser’s book Resisting Segregation.
GREEN GROUP: Build trust with each other through engaged dialogue. Our world feels very divided but the more we can talk to each other and understand each other’s stories the more cohesive we can become. Also, understanding what’s on a ballot and what the impact of voting means on your community matters a great deal.
ORANGE GROUP: No one should feel “bullied” into civic engagement — and/also civic engagement can manifest in a multitude of ways. Groupthink makes it seem like there’s a “right” and a “wrong” and nothing in-between, which shuts down dialogue and widens the divide. Civic engagement is being open to dialogue and working together. They’d also love to bring youth/student into the mix to learn more about what they think and how they see civic engagement factor into their lives.
PINK GROUP: They note that people engage in issues that impact them directly — and, in turn, their participation in these issues can have an impact on the outcome or next steps of that issue. “Squeaky wheel gets the grease.” The more you speak up, the more change you see.
RED GROUP: There may be many issues we care about but we have to be mindful of our resources (time, money, health, other obligations) when getting directly involved. They note that we can’t take on every cause that matters to us but if we can identify specific causes that matter to us the most, that’s a place to start.
ALL GROUPS: The theme of the night was community, community, community: get to know your neighbors, get to know people who care about what you care about, be less combative and more collaborative, and find ways to bring younger residents and students into the dialogue. The better we know each other, the stronger our community can become!
Here are some additional ideas for action steps:
- Host your own small group action-oriented discussions with your family, friends, and neighbors. You can even use our small group discussion questions for the Civic Engagement forum to get you started!
- Participate in the FutureHeights Neighborhood Leadership Workshop Series (Cleveland Heights residents only) to gain some strengths-based community leadership skills and connect with other engaged Cleveland Heights community members.
- Take advantage of the twice-annual FutureHeights Neighborhood Mini-Grant program to support community-building efforts, projects, and programs right where you live (Cleveland Heights and University Heights residents only).
- Attend City Council meetings and, in general, be aware of what is on City Council agendas.
- Write articles or op-eds — or maybe even inquire about being a columnist — for the Heights Observer.
- Connect with the local chapter of League of Women Voters, join the FutureHeights Community & Civic Engagement Committee, connect with a national platform like Vote Save America, or other related groups to engage with their activities.
- Join us for the next Crowdsourced Conversation forum to meet other engaged Heights residents.
- VOTE. If you are eligible, vote in every election — it matters!
- Write for the Heights Observer
- League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland
- Reaching Heights
- FutureHeights Neighborhood Leadership Workshop Series
- FutureHeights Neighborhood Mini-Grant Program
- CH-UH PTA
- City of Cleveland Heights City Council & Committees
- City of University Heights City Council & Committees
- Cuyahoga County Board of Elections
- Vote Save America
Books we recommend:
- One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson
- Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block
- Resisting Segregation by Susan Kaeser
- Represent: The Women’s Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World by June Diane Raphael & Kate Black
- The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
Podcasts we recommend:
- Cleveland Justice System (Season 3 of Serial)
- Dare to Lead (Brené Brown)
- Inside the Bricks, especiallySeason Two: My Changing Neighborhood (NPR)
- Intersectionality Matters! (African-American Policy Forum)
- The Most Sacred Right (Throughline)
- One Vote (Radiolab)
Access the full Civic Engagement Survey Report here.