This guest blog is by ELGL member Brian Smith, Polco, National Research Center.
We can all agree that this year was not what we expected. From the COVID-19 pandemic to “murder hornets,” we’ve faced a lot.
But the craziness that is 2020 couldn’t rob us of a now tried and true holiday in local government: #CityHallSelfie Day.
Founded by the Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) network in 2016, the day is a celebration of local government service. On this day, city workers, elected officials and the public display their pride in local government institutions by taking a selfie in front of their local city hall and posting it on social media with #CityHallSelfie.
But #CityHallSelfie Day is more than just a photo opportunity. It is also a chance to reflect on the critical services that local government provides. This year, more than ever, that means engaging with the public in an ever more purposeful and active manner.
With that in mind, we asked our staff to share a selfie from their hometown city hall and reflect on what civic engagement means to them this year.
Lisa Dowling, Director of Sales
Clayton, North Carolina
“Civic engagement has taken on a whole new meaning for me in 2020. Having moved from across the country, this is my first year being a resident of North Carolina and the Town of Clayton. With no family living in the state, it was important for me to establish a new support system, especially during challenging times. It’s been humbling to see people coming together from all different backgrounds to support and care for one another.”
Alex Pedersen, Chief Finance Officer & Chief Technology Officer
“Civic engagement has always been about being an active part of the community. But in 2020 it seems to mean so much more. It’s about considering the challenges we face together, thoughtfully listening to others – especially those with different views – and being determined to identify and carry out the creative solutions we need to emerge from this year better than we went in.”
Damema Mann, Director of National Engagement
“Civic engagement is more important now than ever, and we have to find safe ways to communicate. I’m proud to work for a company that provides local government with solutions for safe, online civic engagement.”
Julia Steege-Reimann, Marketing Specialist
“For me, civic engagement in 2020 means finding ways to listen to all different kinds of residents and helping them know that even when things are hard you are trying and you are listening.”
Brian Smith, Communications Manager
“In 2020, civic engagement means unity to me. In a time where we are socially distanced, it is crucial to come together and unite around a common vision for recovery from this pandemic. I think now, more than ever, civic engagement should also reemphasize the importance of a dialogue between government and residents — not a monologue from city hall down.”
Michael Jadin, Director of Legislative Outreach
“A silver lining from the pandemic has been a need to change how civic engagement is conducted. We’re now able to give voice to more residents in a larger number of communities with more efficiency–this is what civic engagement means to me in 2020.”
Matt Fulton, Vice President of National Engagement
West St. Paul, Minnesota
“I don’t think there has ever been a more important time to be focused on finding ways to include community stakeholders in moving forward. Residents need to be confident that their voices are being heard so that their trust in government grows stronger. Elected leaders can only build resiliency if decisions are based on truly understanding community values.”
Cory Poris Plasch, Vice President of Customer Success
“Civic engagement has never been more important now that our opportunities to connect have been diminished. We need to hear all of our community more than ever (even and most especially the quiet voices) to shape a vibrant future for all.”
Angelica Wedell, Communications and Marketing Director
Reno, Nevada – Flashback photo from our traveling days
“For Polco/NRC, civic engagement in 2020 has meant coming together to do the best we can to help communities connect and move forward.”