In order to make sure that the selected participants represent their community, community members who are interested in participating will fill out the form which asks questions about the applicant's demographics like their gender, income, ethnicity, education, etc. After the application window has closed, we use a computer program that anonymizes the applicants' identifying information and selects a panel of people whose overall demographic profile matches that of the host community.
For the community of Willmar (population 19,558) we will select 36 participants; for the community of Brooklyn Park (population 79,707) we will select 50 participants.
You'll have to attend a set number days, specific to each assembly. These days consist of education and discussion on the topic of local government, what you would like to see it do, and how you would like to see it work. If selected, you'll commit to having civil discussions of sometimes challenging topics and having an open mind as you are exposed to ideas that may be new to you.
There are a number of reasons why you might want to participate in the Assembly! They are:
A Community Assembly is a group of residents, stakeholders, or interested people selected to be broadly representative of the area's population. Participants deliberate on a key issue or issues of importance in their area.
The assemblies vary in size and are meant to capture a diversity of thought and experience.
A Community Assembly is not limited to citizens of a community. It includes everyone who has an interest, concern, or stake in a community. A Community Assembly aims to give everyone a voice in deliberating and learning about an issue and helping find a solution with his and her neighbors. It’s a safe place for everyone to give their ideas and experiences.
A Community Assembly is really a people’s assembly.
In a Community Assembly, participants generally address one policy idea and produce recommendations based on the education, inspection, and discussion in which they have taken part. Community Assemblies demonstrate that different community members often share similar concerns and are able to collaborate and create common solutions.
These activities also help to ensure that the right process fits the right community. It’s a genuine search for ideas by the community to meet the needs and desires of the community.
This initiative taps into the wisdom of local residents and encourages them to work with one another when politicians cannot. Each assembly’s recommendations will inform the best practices for local government and city charter design for municipalities and researchers across the country and planet.
There will be opportunities to learn with your neighbors and work with them to identify shared priorities and concerns relating to a specific issue. The Minnesota Community Assemblies are focused on local government and how its structure and processes work, what your city government is doing that works well, and possible alternatives that could be explored to improve local government. You’ll have an opportunity to learn from experts, share your thoughts with other participants, and make recommendations for your city.
Local government is often more easily influenced by its residents than state and national governments. As the residents and needs of cities change, it’s important that local governments are set up to help residents engage fully in the political process.
The assemblies are held in the cities themselves not at Hamline University or the Jefferson Center.