Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Does successful civic engagement require empathy?

LA Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez attended a one day conference focused on the sorry state of public dialogue and civic engagement in the U.S., and a big problem at the conference was lack of consensus about what civic engagement is. See "A cultural civics lesson: In order to change today's gridlocked public dialogue, maybe we should skip the town hall for the concert hall."

From the article:

For some, it was simply about the teaching of how government works. For others, it was mainly about civility. And for a third group, into which I fell, it was about something more meaningful and demanding. Kristen Cambell of the National Council on Citizenship, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering civic engagement, was also in that last group. "Successful civic engagement," she told me, "is all about capturing and harnessing empathy. Ultimately, we're talking about wanting people to care for their neighbors, communities, their country."

I do agree that if you don't care about and for people, it's hard to get energized enough to give up your time and other resources ("money" etc.) to work in part for others without necessarily receiving much in return.

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