Civic engagement entails the various ways that the residents of a place are involved in so as to better the living or welfare conditions of others. This is aimed at shaping as well as determining the future of that particular community. Traditionally, civic engagement has been viewed and limited to the youth but successful community development projects have reflected the importance of involving every stakeholder. Precisely, civic engagement is the making of a difference by combining the efforts and skills of the community members then allocating them the necessary resources to make that difference. This is in an effort to promote the type of life people are living.
Our county’s future depends on how well we involve the community in the development of infrastructure through allocation of resources to enable them better life conditions. In his article in the New York Times, Thomas Ehrlich (2000) states that, “Civically engaging the community in any planning process enables citizens to decide which specific policies are needed to promote sustainability while protecting the shared values and quality of life of community residents.” The power of the members of our county is the major and one of the elements of the 20 year plan to develop road and transportation infrastructure. There will be a feeling of power among the people who will psychologically have a good impression of the local government making effective progress.
Participation of each and every member is another element for an effective implementation of the infrastructure plan. Civic engagement will enable connections between different people of our county strengthening and widening relationships. Connections will also include those among people and institutions, issues as well as the political alignment of the county. This will ensure the process is carried on with much concern and hence success in developing the road and transport infrastructure. It will provide real opportunities and this will ensure a difference.
Democracy will be another element that this project will address since ideally a civic engagement involves majority of the people. Civic engagement provides majority of the citizens with the opportunity to interact across various affiliations. People from divergent backgrounds will be able to work on a common matter, infrastructure. They will share their personal views towards infrastructure development and therefore identify the areas of development and the specific attention on them. They will look into areas of importance, discuss and agree on the right action to take. The people will be able to understand how their colleagues are working to develop our roads and how their individual contributions have impacted on the combined effort.
The Importance of civic engagement
Civic engagement will play a vital role in decision making. The local authority intends to engage the public in this plan because in building the county by working as a community will assure the success of the plan. Effective involvement of the citizens makes them well informed about the city and the city issues hence much confidence in the local government. It will improve on transparency and accountability of the funds allocated for the 20-year plan. Subsequent decision making will be well received by the public and the public will gain confidence in the governance of our county. The local government and the citizens are likely to interact in a way that each of them appreciates the limitations that challenge them. This will ensure collaboration between the governance of our city and the people and thereafter the sustainable 20-year plan on infrastructure as well as other projects.
Civic engagement will ensure that the voices of all the people from all parts of the county are heard. There will be equality in all aspects of the plan and hence diversification of ideas. The people will be able to present their concerns as well as needs regarding the roads and transportation infrastructure plan. This will help the local government to determine the allocation of funds, know the areas of emphasis and address the public concerns on the same.
Civic engagement is likely to form a universal ground for undertaking an action. In finding out the solutions the challenges that our infrastructure plan is likely to face divergent opinions of different people must be considered. This is possible through engaging the people. People will share ideas, consider different points of view regarding the plan. Consequently, public judgment on the plan will help in encouraging sustainable action for the long projected period of twenty years.
The engagement of the public in decision making will identify the needs of the citizens. This will help in planning of the project by providing services that the public require. It will better the allocation of funds towards this plan through integrating the public point of view and feedback. As a result there will be improved governance expectation. It will ensure delivering to the community a good understanding of the allocation of funds for the plan subject to the budget constraints. The people will also be able to understand the difficult decisions that have to be reached on allocating the funds to satisfy the divergent population.
The 20 year plan is aimed at improving the road and transport infrastructure of the city for sustainable development. The creation of the plan initiates the allocation of funds locally within the county. These funds will require transparency and accountability in their usage therefore the need to clarify the plan. The plan intends to ensure that all the roads around the county are modernized and meet the national standards towards bettering the transport sector. The roads which are already constructed will require repairs or total replacement if their conditions are beyond repair.
The construction of new roads and repair of the existing ones is projected to take a time period of ten years. The remaining ten years of the stipulated 20 year period will be important in assessing the condition of all the roads to ensure sustainability for a long time. During those last ten years throughout maintenance will be carried out. Well drainage systems will be put in place to ensure durability and reduce the chances of damages.
The 20 year plan contract is expected to attract a lot investors but the committee. The committee will vet the various construction companies before agreeing on the best option. It is expected that a local company is proffered so as to provide maximum advantage for the local people. The 20 year plan on road and transport infrastructure will be partly funded by the national government and partly by the local government as the major stakeholder. In addition, the plan will create employment to the local people as well as the create demand for the goods sold in our city. This will generally mean local economic growth supported by developed transport infrastructure.
How does Civic Engagement build social capital and community
Bourdieu (1985) defined social capital as, ”the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition.” Social capital is formed when the people interact among themselves creating and changing the manner in which they facilitate action. It involves civic organization thorough the social trust to enable collaboration of people to gain mutually.
Civic engagement leads to community building through the output of local activities. The local activities increase the contact of the residents hence building the community. (Enlich, 2000). As a result much social capital at the local level is created. For instance, when the residents of a city get together to solve a common problem, they aid each other with important information and solve personal issues. They get crucial information on employment opportunities, housing and also education hence attaining collective objectives with their own resources. The growth of the social capital is attributed to the networks that people create politically, economically as well as socially including intentional strategies by the community.
Social capital and community building can be achieved through the community influencing crucial decisions externally. The external influence can be directed to the public or private actor. If the community has an opportunity to get access to the social as well as economic resources to attain its objective, it can as well determine the details of the wider social objective. Civic engagement runs more efficiently at the scales that utilize resources as well as come up with policies, objectives and making of decisions to better the community. In doing so they are creating the social capital. For instance, when the community takes part in a court case and the outcome of the case works in their favor. The community has to make sure that the judgment is effectively implemented in a manner that that its purpose for the commu7nity is achieved. This is opposed as to when the implementation of the judgment will benefit the individual agendas of the many actors engaged. This builds the community and with increase civic engagement, it encompasses the ability over other people and the ability for to perform for oneself with other people.
The members of the community collaborate with organizations and the government hence the potential for social capital. According to Hancock (2001);
“Social capital refers to the creation of networks, goodwill, and trust, shared values, norms and generalized reciprocity which arises from interactions between people. It has a cumulative effect, whereby effective interactions with others results in increased confidence and trust which encourage further collaboration. If social cohesion describes a society where different groups and institutions bind together effectively despite differences, then social capital must be part of the glue which enables this outcome.”
When the people work together with the intention of mutual benefit, they interact among themselves and as a result social capital is created. The coming together of people itself is community building. Organizations (local businesses) collaborating with people requires that trust and a common goal. This is what we refer to social capital and the organizations initiate or evoke the community to come together and consequently gain from the social capital through the collaborations with such organizations.
In conclusion, when people in a community come together to work for a common good, they create contacts among themselves. These contacts help to solve personal issues as well as issues affecting the community as a whole. This empowers such a community and accumulates much social capital. Social capital and a cooperative community do not only jus benefit individuals, but also encourage democracy as well as economic growth.
Bourdieu, P. (1985). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
Ehrlich, T. (2000). Excerpts from Civic Responsibility and Higher Education - New York Times. Retrieved April 20, 2013,
Hancock, Trevor. 2001. "People, partnerships and human progress: building community capital." Article published in Health Promotion International, Volume 16, Number 3.