Giving Compass’ Take:
• Aspen Institute interviews Grayce Liu, a civil servant in Los Angeles dedicated to increasing civic engagement, and discusses how to cultivate a better dialogue between government and constituents.
• What is the nonprofit world doing to promote more social awareness and transparency among the powerful? If we all our part of the solution, the tenor of the dialogue Liu refers to will improve across the country.
Grayce Liu is the General Manager for the City of Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, which supports Los Angeles’ 97 Neighborhood Councils in meeting their mission to increase civic participation and make government more responsive to local needs. Neighborhood Councils are comprised of nearly 1800 unpaid elected officials citywide who live, work, own property or have a substantial and ongoing community interest in a neighborhood.
This interview, conducted by Jennifer Bradley, is part of the Aspen Institute Center for Urban Innovation’s series of conversations with inclusive innovation practitioners.
JB: How do you define civic engagement?
GL: My definition of civic engagement is government opening their doors and their processes to collaborate with citizens and stakeholders about decisions that affect their lives. That’s a very simple, short answer, though it’s much harder to do.
There are responsibilities on both sides of civic engagement. The government has to make their processes simple and in human language as opposed to government language as much as possible, so that the constituent side can take on the responsibility of learning what they need to know in order to provide knowledgeable feedback to government.
JB: Why does civic engagement matter?
GL: It really is about creating an ongoing dialogue between government and constituents. It’s about creating buy-in because a lot of times government is very top down and just does what it wants to do. You see this prominently on the national level right now, where constituents feel like they’re not heard and have no trust in government. That should not be the relationship that we have with our government.
Read the full interview with Grayce Liu about the importance of civic engagement by Jennifer Bradley at The Aspen Institute.
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