Huntington is one of 10 cities across the Americas and Europe that have been selected as finalists for the Cities of Service Engaged Cities Award, a new effort to elevate cities that are working creatively to tap the wisdom, talents, and energy of community members to solve public problems. Underwritten by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the award shines light on the growing number of ways city leaders are co-creating the future with residents, enabling cities around the world to learn from best practices and bring effective strategies back to their own cities.
In its inaugural year, the Engaged Cities Award received more than one hundred applications from cities in the Americas and Europe. The ten finalists were selected because their efforts scored highest on key selection criteria, including significant work with citizens to tackle a public problem, clear evidence of impact, and potential to apply the strategy to other problems and geographies.
City leaders in the 10 finalist cities engaged citizens as partners to address serious issues by harnessing the power of civic tech, citizen experts, informed citizen input, participatory design, impact volunteering, and citizen-sourced data. They found new ways to tackle old problems and provide services more efficiently to meet citizen needs.
“The finalists show that everyday citizens can help move their cities forward in many diverse and meaningful ways, leveraging their insights, diverse talents, and creative energy,” said Myung J. Lee, Cities of Service Executive Director. “City leaders are getting more creative and experimental in the ways they are engaging community members. We are proud to highlight the work these cities have accomplished so other cities around the world can follow their lead.”
Huntington was chosen as a finalist because its strategy, which focuses on how it is creating healthier lifestyles, reflects the city’s understanding that local government works better when it is open to the ideas and talents of its citizens. The city obtained support and feedback from residents because of its strong belief that people know what’s best for their communities – and this expertise can help the city deliver better services, solve public problems, and improve government performance.
Huntington developed a “hub-and-spoke” citizen engagement approach to foster healthy living. The city serves as the hub for community stakeholders ― businesses, academic institutions, hospitals, faith-based organizations, and citizens ― to develop ideas and projects. Activities included targeted publicity, leadership development, encouraging resident-led outreach, and training residents in community organizing and advocacy. The city has also helped cultivate a variety of citizen-grown initiatives in addition to providing resources and adopting policies to encourage healthy living.
Huntington’s initiative has resulted in a variety of outcomes, including the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, improved waterfront access, a peer-based addiction recovery center, and The Wild Ramp year-round market that has expanded access to fresh, affordable food.
“It is no surprise that Huntington is one of 10 cities in the world to share how we are engaging our community to address a complex issue, in this case how we can become a healthier Huntington,” Mayor Steve Williams said. “As in all issues that we encounter, we see that everything is connected and we must have an engaged community to identify the strategies that will enable us to successfully transform our community to the dynamic city we all expect and deserve.”
The Engaged Cities Award was open to cities with populations of 30,000 or more in the Americas and Europe. Cities submitted their applications in January 2018. Huntington joins Boston, Massachusetts; Fort Collins, Colorado; San Jose, California; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Bologna, Italy; Hamm, Germany; Helsinki, Finland; Mexico City, Mexico; and Santiago de Cali, Colombia, as finalists.
Cities of Service, along with an esteemed group of experts, will choose three winning cities, including a $100,000 grand prize winner. Winners will be announced as part of the Engaged Cities Summit and Award Dinner in May 2018.
For more information about the Cities of Service Engaged Cities Award, please visit https://engagedcitiesaward.org.
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