Gotham Gazette

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Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement

  • Adams Consolidates City's Civic Engagement Efforts Under New Office

    Mayor Adams (photo: Benny Polatseck/Mayoral Photography Office)

    Mayor Eric Adams announced last month the creation of a new office consolidating the city’s various civic engagement bodies, as part of his ongoing effort to streamline the functions of city government and, he said, to more actively engage the public in civic life.

    The mayor’s new Office of Engagement, led by newly-appointed Chief Engagement Officer Betsy MacLean, now oversees various city entities that interact with New Yorkers to encourage their participation in government and politics: the mayor’s Community Affairs Unit

  • Civic Engagement Commission to Launch Citywide Participatory Budgeting After Pandemic Delay

    Dr. Sarah Sayeed (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

    The first citywide participatory budgeting program is expected to launch later this year after a two-year delay largely due to the COVID-19 state of emergency, officials said at a City Council hearing last week.

    The program was approved by voters in 2018 as one of three City Charter-mandated functions of the new Civic Engagement Commission (CEC) created in the same ballot referendum. The two-year

  • Giving People Voice, Improving Performance: New York City Should Implement Resident Satisfaction Surveys

    Outreach to New Yorkers (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    Mayor Adams,in launching the Dynamic Mayor’s Management report (DMMR) and the creation of a Chief Efficiency Officer, promises to “track how well we’re delivering services to New Yorkers and identifying areas where we need to improve.” The Chief Efficiency Officer...

  • An Early Test of The Adams Administration’s Values and Tech Prowess

    Participatory government in-person (photo: New York City Council)

    In 2019, New Yorkers voted overwhelmingly in favor of establishing a Civic Engagement Commission that would modernize how the city and its residents worked together to identify and solve problems at the most local levels. That commission hasn’t been earning itself many headlines, but the participation platform it set up

  • The Next New York City Administration Must Prioritize Youth Voices

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    Engaged youth, New York City (photo: Paige Polk/Mayoral Photography Office)

    As CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City (BBBS of NYC), the nation’s first youth mentoring organization, I hear from young people nearly every day. I’m consistently impressed by their thoughtfulness, bravery and solutions-driven creativity. Each of our Littles has a unique perspective, but I’ve heard one consistent gripe over this last year: They want us to listen to them!

    It’s remarkably disheartening to continuously see the city’s leaders not heed the

  • Building Community and Local Civic Engagement in the Shadow of Presidential Politics

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    Engaged New Yorkers (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photography Office)

    We are in a critical moment. We’ve been seeing how the national political arena has impacted everyday life at a hyper-local level. But amid an ongoing dialogue on polling, voter engagement, and how the presidential election will shape our nation we continue to miss the mark on how elections affect municipalities. The broad strokes of national politics continue to

  • Seeking the Next Generation of Public Servants

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    New York City Hall (photo: mayor's office)

    There is no question that today’s young people demand more from those in power and seek to correct broken systems. The recent wave of protests, petitions, and activism following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans at the hands of the police brought front and center a change-making generation that refuses to stay silent against horrific injustices. We are outraged and reacting in the most effective ways we know how.

    Our efforts have made many strides: catalyzing policing reforms,

  • SimCity Showed Us Brilliant Civic Tech Interfaces 30 Years Ago. We Should Build Them for Real Now

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    (SimCity image via nycj blogspot)

    I was eight years old when I first encountered a computer game called SimCity. The general premise of the game was that you were the mayor of a virtual city, and you would use game money to create a place for communities of “Sims” to live.

    First you set up basic infrastructure like roads, pipes, and zoning and soon

  • Madrid Demonstrates Successful Civic Engagement. Let’s Pay Attention as We Launch New York City Commission

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    (photo: @decidemadrid)

    Madrid turns its residents’ collective passions and intelligence into tangible improvements to city life. New York should do the same.

    New Yorkers had until February 22 to apply to join the Civic Engagement Commission (CEC), a new entity that city voters approved last election to manage civic engagement processes throughout the city. The commission, which will be officially named in April by a

  • New York’s Opportunity to Become a Model for Effective Civics Education

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    (photo via the Governor's Office)

    Could New York be the next state to catch the civics bug and modernize its civics education standards? Hopefully, state legislators and policymakers are watching Massachusetts, which just took a big step forward by creating a national model for effective civics education.

    Two short days after the November 6 election, Massachusetts adopted cutting-edge legislation (S-2631) that, when implemented, will ensure that every Massachusetts student receives a project-based civics education, equipping them with the skills,

  • Flip Your Ballot, Vote Yes on 2 for Democracy

    participatory budgeting

    (photo: @pb_nyc)

    On Election Day -- Tuesday, November 6 -- New Yorkers have a unique opportunity to vote for democracy. By voting “yes” on three ballot proposals, we can turn New York City into a beacon for democracy.

    The ballot proposals will make it easier for ordinary New Yorkers to run for office, vote in elections, have a say in city decisions, and serve on community boards. They will make our government better and our voices stronger.


  • Mayoral Charter Revision Commission Hears Expert Testimony on Civic Engagement and Redistricting

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    Council Member Lander and Noel Hidalgo testify

    The charter revision commission convened by Mayor Bill de Blasio held its fourth and final issue-focused forum on Thursday afternoon at NYU, hearing testimony from experts on the city’s civic engagement efforts and hearing proposals for independent redistricting of City Council districts.

    The central question before the commission on civic engagement was whether the city should create a new independent, nonpartisan Office of Civic Engagement. The proposal is the brainchild of New York City

  • GothamTalks: Commentary from New York civic leaders

    GothamTalks commentary New Leaders Council

    Gotham Gazette and New Leaders Council -- a nonpartisan, nonprofit leadership institute -- have partnered with Manhattan Neighborhood Network to create a series of video commentaries by New York City civic activists. GothamTalks is short video essays submitted through the New Leaders Council alumni network, which consists of hundreds of New Yorkers working in advocacy,

  • Special Election Shows Need for Democratization

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    Charles Youn, executive director of KALCA, speaks at a press conference

    Any good democracy should reflect a society’s diversity in its leadership. The undemocratic way in which the 65th Assembly District special election is unfolding should galvanize all communities, particularly underrepresented ones, to push for reforms and encourage underrepresented New Yorkers to be more civically engaged.

    America does not always have accurate and inclusive representation in government. This is especially true in state legislatures. A few weeks ago...