ILG Launches Civic Engagement Survey and New Services for Cities

The James Irvine Foundation and the Community Technology Foundation of California have provided financial support to the Institute for Local Government to help increase local governments’ capacity to more successfully implement inclusive public involvement processes. The goal is to help cities and counties successfully involve their diverse communities in civic engagement efforts. With an initial focus on the Central Valley, participating cities to date include Lodi, Madera, Selma and Stockton.

In Lodi, ILG translated redevelopment- related materials into Spanish and Urdu (a Pakistani language) for use on the city’s website and to inform residents about issues relevant to upcoming public meetings regarding a redevelop ment project.

Lodi used digital meeting translation equipment purchased by ILG to ensure accessibility for non-English-speaking residents. This same equipment is avail able on a first-come, first-served basis to other cities in the Central Valley and South San Joaquin regions through their League regional public affairs managers.

Cities are also taking advantage of ILG support to add automatic translation capacity to their websites. Selma is the first city to do this as part of the ILG project. Machine translation is not 100 percent accurate but can be improved with a “dictionary” feature that helps with municipal terminology. This translation capacity can help inform residents about city services and meetings as well as demonstrate a city’s interest in reaching out to engage all its residents.

Other cities in the Central Valley and South San Joaquin regions are making use of ILG’s network of individuals and organizations with expertise in immigrant integration and engagement. Free consul tations are available for local officials on topics ranging from expanding the diversity of public service recruitment pools to creating a website that is more responsive to immigrant needs and cultural practices.

These services may be expanded to the Inland Empire area in the near future. For more information, contact Terry Amsler, director, Collaborative Governance Initiative, at

Survey Directs ILG Civic Engagement Work

ILG’s Collaborative Governance Initiative recently mailed questionnaires to a sample of elected officials and staff in city and county government throughout California. More than 1,000 officials are expected to reply and offer opinions about civic engagement in their communities and how ILG can provide practical assistance to help them successfully pursue public involvement.

Survey information is being compiled about policy and problem areas that local officials see as most appropriate for civic engagement, the types of public involvement that seem most useful and a range of related questions.

According to the initial responses, local of ficials get most of their information about civic engagement from other officials with similar roles, both in their own jurisdic tions and in other areas of the state. In addition, elected officials and their staff gain knowledge from statewide membership organizations, with a significant percent age of staff also turning to their profes sional associations for information.

Information from this survey will help ILG better understand local civic engagement-related needs and offer the most useful information to local officials through appropriate forums and formats. For more information, visit the Collaborative Governance Initiative section of the ILG website at

This article appears in the November 2007 issue of Western City
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