Program Purpose and Description
The Local Government Center has begun developing resources to help support the development of effective local governance environments. The Center recognizes that a civil environment supports effective local government. By a ‘civil environment’ we mean one where respectful communication between elected officials, and between elected officials and the public, predominates. The Center believes also that government works best when it works through collaboration and honest, constructive dialogue. Research suggests that, when such conditions predominate, the likelihood of local governments finding lasting solutions to difficult problems rises.
Local Government Specialist Bill Rizzo coordinates this program, and works with and through County Extension Educators, and directly with local officials, to help officials work effectively together and with the public to identify and resolve community issues and challenges. Program resources are being developed around the following topics:
- Civility in Public Life
- Community Dialogue and Deliberation
- Public Participation Principles and Methods
In addition to educational support, the Center will conduct and share the results of applied research intended to better understand how civility and dialogue interact to support effective local government.
In recognition of the needs and interests of their members, Wisconsin’s three local government member-based associations – the Wisconsin Counties Association, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, and the Wisconsin Towns Association – have endorsed this programmatic direction.