We often hear about the need for greater Civic Engagement, but what does that mean exactly? Getting involved? Running for office? Serving on a board or commission?
Engagement mainly describes action, but doesn’t necessarily take motive into account. One person’s engagement can hurt us all or help us all – but either way, it’s still engagement.
Those seeking to benefit only their narrow self-interests by engaging in the public sphere don’t necessarily make things any better, yet they are civically engaged. What society needs – what the West Valley needs – is more individuals that become civically engaged with the right mindset – the Civic Ownership Mindset.
The term ‘Ownership’ as used in Civic ownership is not referring to possession, but to stewardship.
A Civic Ownership Mindset is the highest manifestation of Love of Community.
An individual with a highly developed Civic Ownership Mindset becomes engaged in civic processes, programs and roles in order to protect and promote the greater good EVEN WHEN it might conflict with his or her individual self-interest.
While individuals such as William Wallace, Joan of Arc and Ghandi personify the Civic Ownership Mindset, martyrdom is not required of West Valley leaders today (thankfully!). Yet each of these individuals sought a collective betterment for their communities that eventually collided with their safety and security but never deterred them from moving forward.
A Civic Ownership Mindset can be developed by exposing leaders to realities all around them and helping them see that they can make a difference and can no longer push off community stewardship to “someone else” since we are all responsible for the decisions being made on our behalf. The health of the “Civic Ecosystem” is increased when we each feel a stewardship over it. And individuals and organizations alike prosper when we have a healthy “Civic Ecosystem”.