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Scott Witthoft

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    Adam Royalty and Scott Witthoft, facilitators from the, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, will lead work sessions on robust engagement at the Knight Foundation Civic Innovation in Action Studio on May 12-14, a workshop where civic innovators from across the country will develop ideas to improve cities by harnessing talent, advancing opportunity and promoting civic engagement. Photo credit: Flickr user ion-bogdan dumitrescu. How might we encourage people to engage in more robust acts of citizenship? That is one of the questions that participants will explore during Knight Foundation’s Civic Innovation in Action Studio. This is an exciting, and somewhat overwhelming prospect. In order to scope this challenge for the time available, we are asking the participants’ to consider four things. RELATED LINKS "Putting ideas into action to build better cities" by Carol Coletta on KnightBlog "Learning Lab gathers ideas on promoting community engagement" by Carol Coletta on KnightBlog "Learning Lab gathers ideas on making the most of talent in our cities" by Carol Coletta on KnightBlog "Boston adopts new tools to engage residents in civic life" by Nigel Jacobs on KnightBlog "Scaling an Etsy Economy for a changing workforce" by Dana Mauriello on KnightBlog "Harriet Tregoning, identifying ideas to expand opportunities in cities" by Carol Coletta KnightBlog "Studio explores ideas for successful cities" by Carol Coletta on KnightBlog The first is that designing for engagement is different than designing a solution. For example, if public transportation in a city is broken, brainstorming ways to improve the bus system might lead to some interesting concepts, but it does not address the issue of engaging people as citizens. Instead, it is important for this track of the studio to focus on helping people take responsibility for the common good. In the case of our example, this might lead to redesigning how community meetings around public transportation take shape. The second consideration is that when it comes to civic action, there is a difference between utilizing existing structures and inventing new ones. Engagement depends on the tools available for achieving a goal. When a person sees a potential solution, a subsequent step is asking, “How can I make it happen?” The difference between utilizing and inventing tools is a unique factor affecting the outcome of engagement. In fact, the real or perceived difficulty with inventing tools for change is critical to the outcome scenario where someone takes action or sits stagnant. Tools that already exist allow for participation based on utilization. Someone can dig in using systems that are within reach and can be activated immediately—”I can do this because I have the means.” Rather than dealing with the barriers, someone can take action.