Urban Fold

Slackers No More, Generation X Redefines Governance and Outreach

As they move into positions of leadership in their communities and in the public sector, a generation once labelled as "slackers" is helping to change the relationship between governments and their citizens, reports Rob Gurwitt.

"Local governments are in the midst of a sea change when it comes to public participation and citizen engagement," says Gurwitt. "Forced by the recession and recovery of the last five years to make dramatic cuts to their budgets, they’ve reached out to try to understand better what their residents value most. Presented with a new and ever-evolving array of technological tools -- Facebook, Twitter, text messaging and public-participation sites like MindMixer, Peak Democracy and Nextdoor -- they’re using them to publicize their own concerns and, increasingly, to draw out public sentiment."

"While it’s too much to say that this generational change is the force driving local governments’ more expansive view of public engagement, the blending of the two trends is no coincidence. It shouldn’t be surprising that this generation, which long ago shook off its disengaged-slacker stereotype to become known for its entrepreneurialism, DIY ethic, skepticism about bureaucracy and comfort with collaborating over far-flung networks, would now be pressing local government to think in new ways about the work of democracy."

Full Story: How Generation X is Shaping Government

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