The Civic Challenge
The Civic Challenge is a two year, statewide campaign. The goal of the Civic Challenge is to change the top-down architecture of political power by introducing a new solutions- focused form of civic activism – one where every citizen can weigh in on a coordinated push to get our politics and government out of the rut of the blame game and onto the path of pragmatic problem solving.
This new form of civic activism is defined by its principles. Its solutions must be evidence based, cost effective, and advanced with a no-blame strategy.
Its structural underpinnings are: (1) Solutions-oriented Civics Classes for adults and high school juniors and seniors; (2) Solutions-Focused Journalism driven by Citizen Newsgatherers who inject evidence-based solutions into local government news stories; and (3) Civic Trustees, who are citizens with leadership ability and who take a Civic Pledge “to leave their communities better than they found them by pursuing pragmatic solutions, instead of just pointing out problems and assigning blame.”
These elements are supported by a combination of online trainings, do-it-yourself guides, and a “dream team” of volunteer experts in government law, administration, media, and the political strategies of policy implementation.
Because the Civic Challenge campaign is community based, it gives citizens easy access to participation and the ability to see their efforts get results right in their own hometowns. But its impact goes far beyond the community level because it primes citizens to choose their representatives at every level based on the solutions they offer.
THE CIVIC CHALLENGE BEGINS WITH A PLEDGE
The Civic Pledge is a values proposition that citizens can make and challenge others to take. It is a Pledge “to leave one’s community better than they found it by pursuing pragmatic solutions” that are: (1) cost effective (2) based on evidence of success and (3) advanced in a no-blame manner. A variety of Pledge activation steps suitable to most everyone’s circumstances are facilitated on the Campaign’s website.
Citizens who take the pledge are invited to activate their pledge. They can: (1) become a proponent or teacher of civics classes which focus on local government problem-solving in high schools and adult venues; (2) become a solutions newsgatherer to introduce evidence-based solutions into news stories on local government issues; or (3) become a Civic Trustee, committing to at least one year of service working with like-minded citizens in monthly no blame, problem-solving sessions of local Civic Trusts. Civic Trusts have been piloted in Trenton, Perth Amboy and Newark and are already producing significant solutions.
THE CIVIC CHALLENGE IS POWERED BY:
- The Online Civic Challenge Power Platform which offers those who take the Civic Pledge a wide variety of online tools, training and coaching support for no blame problem solving with options for every citizen to participate based on their available time.
- Solutions Focused Civics Classes, developed by The Citizens Campaign in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, teaches students and adults to develop and gain adoption of pragmatic solutions in their communities.
- An Award Winning Solutions-Focused Citizen Journalism Program that provides opportunities for citizens to become Solution Newsgatherers who introduce evidence-based solutions to reporting on local governmental issues.
- A Law and Policy Task Force comprised of a “dream team” of experts in government law, politics and policy implementation who turn citizen-identified solutions into “ready to adopt” legal form and advise on adoption strategies. The result has been the citizen-led adoption of over 300 local laws and several state laws, some with national impact.
- A Civic Challenge Facilitator- The Citizens Campaign will provide an umbrella support system for participating citizens. The Citizens Campaign has a fifteen year history of success in empowering citizens. It has won accolades from universities, media outlets and nationally recognized experts in civic innovation including former Harvard President Derek Bok and former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, to name a few.