When I was the Chair of the Board of Supervisors in Ferguson Township, Pennsylvania, I did as much as I could to help current and future citizens understand the positive role that government can play in their lives and the positive role they can play with and in government.
In this episode of Democracy Works, "The Power of Local Government," I outline three ways that citizens and local government can work together to create more informed and more vibrant democracy at the local level:
Citizens should pay attention to meeting agendas.
Municipalities should use a variety of communication tools to let constituents know what’s happening.
Everyone should support local media so it can do its job of reporting on local government.
All of the small places add up. I believe that if local governments work together, they can have a big impact on national or global issues. Case in point, I led an effort to adopt a resolution calling for carbon neutrality in Ferguson Township by 2050. That effort has gained significant traction in the Centre Region as it takes on a climate action and adaptation plan, local governments join together to pursue a 20+MW solar power purchase agreement, and the Penn State Faculty Senate has also called on the administration to achieve net zero or negative emissions by 2050 and zero emissions from purchased electricity by 2030. It’s easy for a cynic to say that one municipality of 20,000 people--much less one person--can’t change anything, but as you’ll hear, the idea is already starting to catch on.