Cities are a mosaic of neighborhoods. These neighborhoods can be seen through the lens of geographical boundaries, past or present industries and commerce, affluent or poorer populations, racial clustering by accident or design, etc. Within each neighborhood, there can be found pride and problems. Giving these diverse neighborhoods a voice in addressing their problems and discussing their future is an ongoing challenge for City government and city councils.
Community Deliberative Forums can become a creative force in bringing neighbors together, bridging social capital and strengthening civic health. The experience of Pittsburgh’s Hilltop Community is a good case study. In his analysis of that experience Gregory Crowley notes the importance of listening to a diverse group of stakeholders and including multiple perspectives in the process throughout. His chapter, Building Trust Through Inclusion: Reflections on the Practice of Deliberative Democracy is available here and in the section on the Hilltop Community Conversation.