Citizen Solution and Core Civic Skills

October 11, 2013

Harry Boyte, in The Citizen Solution, identifies 10 key civic skills for doing public work. In our course this semester, we will discuss and practice 5 of those skills:

  • doing one-on-one interviews
  • mapping power and interests
  • holding values house conversations
  • doing public evaluation
  • taking action

If you were to add one of the skills remaining on Boyte’s list to our list, which one would it be? Why? How would it be helpful to the public life you would like to have?

8 Responses to Citizen Solution and Core Civic Skills

  1. Drew on October 14, 2013 at 1:30 am

    Developing a Citizen Identity would be the skill that I would add because if you can evaluate what is important to you in your life outside of your career and family life in terms of how you can create change for the better it is extremely empowering. This skill opens up all kinds of possibilities for people to be able to figure out what they are really passionate about and how they can fulfill those passions by developing their civic life.

  2. Eric M. on October 14, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    The skill that I would add to our list is the Finding Free Spaces in Your Community skill. I selected this skill because these free spaces can be utilized by many of the other skills that we learn. We can do one-on-one’s there, we can hold values house meetings there, and we can also use these free spaces as an informal HQ for our projects. This skill will be helpful to the public life I hope to have because it will help to network and get a real sense of what the everyday people in the community want/need.

  3. Austin on October 14, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    I would add Boyte’s tenth civic skill, building partnerships to our list. This skill is the essence of all of the civic skills Boyte writes about. One to one interviews, holding a house meeting, and getting to know your neighbor are all practices which lay the ground work for building partnerships. These partnerships are essential because meaningful public work can rarely be done by a lone individual, and they allow citizens to be able to shift “from protest to governance”, which is a cornerstone of effective Democracy.

  4. Mitchell Paukner on October 15, 2013 at 12:22 am

    I think that getting to know your neighborhood is the most important civics skill that is not taught in our course. I think that getting to know your neighborhood, and in particular your neighbors is essential to leading an active public life. I believe that being engaged starts at a grassroots level, and those roots are a strong bond between neighbors. So much can happen if people in communities begin to act with their neighbors best interest in mind instead of their own. Once this mentality starts it can snowball into a community that is centered around giving. Margaret Meade once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” When I first heard this quote I was struck by its truth, and I know for a fact that if neighbors begin to work to help each other, the world would be a greatly changed place.

  5. Taren Leitzke on October 15, 2013 at 1:53 am

    I would add the skill of getting to know your neighborhood to the list. This is because I would equate ‘getting to know your neighborhood’ with ‘becoming informed with what’s going on around you.’ It is important to know what is going on around oneself and to become informed and knowledgeable. One should always make logical, rational decisions, and to do that one must base their decisions and choices on objective facts and evidence and not on inner, subjective beliefs and opinions. This is why I would add the skill of getting to know your neighborhood to the list.
    It is important to the public life I would like to have because it is important to base decisions and choices on evidence and facts. There are many people who think that if they believe something strong enough or have a strong enough opinion about something, that it makes that belief or opinion an objective fact that they should base their decisions on, but this is simply not the case. To make good decisions and choices in one’s public life, it is important one bases them not in beliefs and opinions held without evidence, but to base them in observation of the world and community one experiences around them, to base them on actual evidence of the way the world and neighborhood operates. Without observation and evidence, one will base their decisions and choices on an unrealistic model of the world, and then their decisions and choices will have negative impacts for other people. For any forward movement to occur in an issue, it is important that people use objective facts, evidence, and observation they can agree on when discussing the issue to come to a decision, and not subjective beliefs and opinions people will never agree on due to the very nature of subjectivity. This is why getting to know your neighborhood and becoming informed is important for public life.

  6. Amanda on October 15, 2013 at 3:40 am

    I think “Discovering Cultural Resources” would be a good skill to add. Culture defines people’s lives and dictates their values (for the most part). One-to-ones will still be important on the individual level but if we are able to understand the culture of the area we will be able to make better-informed decisions on what projects the community is likely to support and how they will show that support. Identifying important cultural institutions like the churches mentioned in the chapter would also give us a good starting point for power-mapping and potential one-to-ones. When working in a small homogenous community that we are a part of, discovering cultural resources will be easy since we are part of the culture. In the case of working with a separate or unfamiliar community, as is the case with many of us as UWEC students looking outward into the Eau Claire community, it is important to understand the cultural values held by the community so our work can fit into them.

  7. Morgan on October 15, 2013 at 4:13 am

    I think that it would be very beneficial to learn about Cultural Resources. People’s lifestyles, beliefs, and opinions are strongly shaped by their cultural backgrounds. When working in a community with diverse cultural backgrounds it’s important to be aware of and consider all of the opinions and self-interests of the community. Also, people often follow and trust their cultural leaders, so knowing who these leaders are is important when it comes to power mapping. My Empowering Students group for the summit is looking at engagement programs in the schools. We should carefully in consider the ideas, opinions, and values concerning engagement of the large Hmong community in Eau Claire.

  8. Braedan on October 15, 2013 at 6:43 am

    Out of the five of Boyte’s practices that we do not discuss or practice in class, I would add “Discovering Cultural Resources” to the list. I feel like identifying and examining the culture of an area, either a neighborhood or something larger like a city at large, could be a major benefit when attempting to engage people. Knowing the traditions, values, and other such concepts of various groups within a community can not only help create stronger ties within the community, but can also help identify common issues that people want to work on.

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