Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

October 3, 2013

Phil Power: A call for citizen input

The cover has a big picture of an ear.

Underneath, the headline: “This is a politician’s ear. Bend it!”

That’s the first thing anyone will see when they pick up the cover of the discussion guide for this year’s round of Community Conversations sponsored by The Center for Michigan.

You talk, they listen. We’ve done it before, and we’re doing it again: These Community Conversations are small gatherings designed to bring Michiganders together and call forth their views on where our state should be going. In all, some 3,000 folks will get together from October through next April in groups of 20-30.

The idea is to help citizens define, frame and amplify their priorities before the November 2014 election, when voters will pick a governor, plus all 38 state senators and 110 state representatives.

This is the fifth major round of community conversations facilitated by the Center for Michigan, the nonprofit, nonpartisan “think and do tank,” I founded more than seven years ago.

Since 2007, the Center has spoken with more than 20,000 citizens, the largest public engagement campaign in Michigan history.

Participants will review information from Bridge Magazine’s Michigan Scorecard about where Michigan stands today with respect to four key policy areas: Economy & Prosperity, Education, Quality of life, and Public Money Priorities. Participants will discuss their views and set priorities for how best to make Michigan a better place.

Together they’ll build a public agenda for our state’s future to help focus political discussion in next year’s election.

The conversations are open to all. Folks who want to participate and help set a citizen agenda for Michigan’s future can call 734-926-4285 or send an email to engage@thecenterformichigan.net.

These conversations aren’t just idle chatter. They’ve proven in past year to have real impact on what actually happens in Michigan:

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