What kind of Michigan do you want in the future?
Now is the time for you to have a voice in shaping a citizens’ agenda for the 2014 statewide elections. This month the Center for Michigan launches its latest statewide public engagement campaign. From now until next April, we will once again travel the state, host more than 100 Community Conversations, and gather diverse citizen input on where Michigan has been, where it is now, and where it should go next.
We are booking Community Conversation locations right now. Email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org if your organization is interested in hosting one of our interactive and nonpartisan 90-minute discussions.
“The citizens don’t have a lobbyist,” said Center for Michigan founder and board chairman Phil Power. “Community Conversations are meant to provide convenient and meaningful ways for Michigan residents to have a viable say in the future direction of our state. Don’t wait for politicians on the campaign trail to tell you what they are going to do. Tell them what you want first!”
The campaign kicks off Monday, September 16 with a Community Conversation at the Small Business Association of Michigan.
"The Center for Michigan's community conversations are a great avenue for our members to weigh in on the state's priorities,” said Rob Fowler, CEO of SBAM. “We value the Center's unique brand of engagement, one that allows it to hear thousands of voices offering their perspectives on the future of our state."
Consider where we are today. Our state economy has emerged from the worst depths of the Great Recession. Michigan’s population inched slightly upward after a long slide. “Pure Michigan” images of vibrant natural resources and cultural attractions have boosted tourism. Yet our largest city, Detroit, is in bankruptcy. Many other communities face deep financial, social, and educational concerns. And, for many state residents, prosperity remains only a distant hope.
In November 2014, Michigan holds its next election for governor, as well as all 38 state senators, and all 110 state representatives. What issues do you want them to address on the campaign trail – and in the state capitol once they are elected? The goal here is not to elect any particular candidate from any particular party. Instead, the goal is to include the public’s priorities in all campaigns and the to-do lists of whoever wins in November.
Free conferences for diverse interest groups
In the past several years, dozens of business, nonprofit and community service groups have used Community Conversations to boost attendance and interactivity at regular meetings, annual conferences and other events. Tell us now at email@example.com if you’re interested in including Community Conversations in your organization’s upcoming events schedule.
“The most remarkable thing about hosting a Community Conversation at the Grand Rapids Public Library was being able to bring together a diverse group of people who truly cared about the future of our state,” said Kristen Krueger-Corrado, marketing and communications manager at the Grand Rapids Public Library. “The Center for Michigan facilitated a dynamic session where opposing viewpoints were heard and respected. We look forward to exploring more issues impacting Michigan in future Community Conversations.”
The Center for Michigan has hosted Community Conversations in bars, churches, corporate board rooms, homeless shelters, and many places in between. The goal is to capture the voices of the state’s many diverse regions, communities and demographics.
This is not idle chatter
Since 2007, the Center has served as a bullhorn for Michigan citizens to reach state leaders. More than 20,000 Michigan residents have participated in Community Conversations in four previous rounds of statewide public engagement campaigns. Steadily, this work has shown that the public voice can and does make a difference in the leadership of our state. The findings of Community Conversations were the focus of the only televised debate between the two major candidates in the last race for governor in 2010. And “Citizens’ Agenda” reports from the previous public engagement campaigns provided public momentum that helped spur state leaders to:
- Approve the nation’s largest expansion of public preschool.
- Approve deeper state investment in the “Pure Michigan” marketing campaign.
- Reform state business taxes.
- Institute reforms to save taxpayers $250 million in state prison costs.
How it works
In this next campaign, participants will weigh in on four big-picture issues: Education; Economy & Prosperity; Quality of Life; and Public Money Priorities.
How can Michigan create a climate for greater economic growth and more and better jobs? How should the education system improve? Do citizens want tax cuts, deeper public investment in public services, or reforms to how public money is spent?
These are the kinds of issues citizens tackle together in Community Conversations in-depth dialogue and live polling. To aid in the discussion, all participants receive a “Michigan Scorecard” of issues and statistics outlining where Michigan stands on some two dozen quality of life indicators. The Center for Michigan reports on the latest scorecard findings elsewhere in today’s edition of Bridge Magazine.
With the assistance of our longtime public engagement partners at Public Sector Consultants in Lansing, the Center for Michigan tallies every vote and every comment in every community conversation. We combine that deep citizen feedback with statistical polling to develop a representative and nonpartisan citizens’ agenda.
We’ll then hit the campaign trail late next spring with the political candidates. Those running for office will all receive the next “Citizen Agenda” report. They will be asked to respond and react to its findings – while running for office and once the winners get to the state capitol.
“Michigan belongs to all of us,” Phil Power said. “Stake your claim and have your say in its future.”