The following was written to be delivered to civic leaders in Wilmington, NC. I found it while cleaning out my Documents folder, and seemed suitable to "reframe" as a blog entry.

Electing new people to old offices is only the barest of starts. These new people must turn their positions to new responsibilities. Ultimately, their task shuuld be to foster public participation in their own governance. This means giving citizens opportunity and motivation to participate, and reinforcement for doing so.

Then, there is the matter of "optics" which is actually way more than "optics" because different arrangements of space can elicit different behaviors. "My discipline is to reform the environment in ways favorable to the success of all humanity with the confidence that propitious environmental circumstances induce spontaneously pro-social behaviors" ~Buckminster Fuller.

Look at the way commission meetings are held. The commissioners sit on a high dais in a loose arc, where they can't really see each other very well. Surrounded by a phalanx of department heads and staff, citizens approach the commissioners from below, as in "Please, Oh Lord, hear my plea!" This arrangement is meant to be intimidating and to lessen citizen input. Let new office holders turn it around. During public input period, turn the public"s podium around and seat the commissioners in the front row of the "audience" ready to be "schooled" by the people who hired them. At the end of the public input period, move the commissioners back to the dais, where they can be seen, but close the arc so they can actually see and "read" each other. They will be encouraged to work more collaboratively which ripples out to include more citizen input. Also look into opportunities to move the commission meetings, and other government meetings into public spaces, library meeting rooms, school auditoriums, parks events buildings. Stop trying to intimidate citizens from your palace.