CCYP Shape Your Cape Summit

Last Thursday, Cape Cod Young Professionals (CCYP) hosted its first annual YP Summit, where I was a speaker on Civic Engagement 101: How to Get Involved With Your Community. We demystified how to get involved when you don’t know where to start.

The room was packed and when we asked who had been to a town meeting, almost all the hands shot up. Civic engagement is trending on Cape Cod (#engagecapecod), with young professionals serving on finance committees, running (and winning) elections for school committee, and even the most tepid putting their toes in the cold New England water.

Q: Becoming civically involved is overwhelming. Where do I start?

  • Go to town website: look at committees for something that interests you
  • Find a cause (potholes, playgrounds, wildlife)
  • Keep an eye out for public notices (in the newspaper, at town hall, or on the town calendar)
  • Like your local community newspaper’s Facebook page
  • Attend your town’s Citizens Police Academy
  • Peruse the town’s Annual Report

 

Q: Say I’m not ready to get on a committee but I still want to get involved. What are some baby steps I can take?  

  • Volunteer on a political campaign (#capepoli)
  • Bring a buddy to town meeting. The Secretary of State offers this guide on how it works.
  • Ask your Town Clerk if there are any short-term town sub-committees
  • Join your local civic association
  • Find out if your selectmen/town councilor has a monthly coffee hour
  • Join the town’s Citizen Advisory Committee

 

Q: Say I’ve found a cause or committee I’m interested in. What steps should I take?

  • Look for stories about the committee or issue in your town’s weekly newspaper
  • Public Meetings: watch it in person, online or on tv, or read the minutes
  • Contact the chairman or the administrative assistant for the committee
  • Have coffee with a member of the committee

 

Q: How can I figure out what kind of time commitment a committee is? And how do I know what the proper way to conduct myself in these settings is?  

 

Q: Are there any Mentoring & Education Resources out there?

 

Now you have some concrete next steps – and no excuses – to get involved. How will you #engagecapecod? Comment here or tweet @nexuswerx your engagement!

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2 Comments

Alan Tuttle · May 31, 2016 at 7:14 pm

Excellent, I hope your effort will bring more people to have an interest in the political process. There are many talented people of all ages who could become assets to their community.

Voter apathy is not good for our democracy. The first time I ran for office four thousand people voted, the last time I ran in the same community the voter turnout was about half. If you can get people interested, this trend will change.

    stefaniecoxe · May 31, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Absolutely! And part of the challenge we face is a younger demographic with less time to study complex issues and systems of doing business. So while young people need to make an effort to learn, communities need to meet them where their at. One of the ideas we’ve floated at CCYP is to ask towns to copy Barnstable’s Inside Town Government Class. Or at least do an open house night with departments and committees that allows prospective volunteers and voters to have face-to-face conversations with town leaders.

    Thanks for reading, Alan!

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