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Civic Engagement & Participation

For too long, systems of power and oppression have discouraged and disincentivized equity-deserving communities from engaging in civic processes —from participating in council meetings and advisory committees to voting and running in municipal elections. WTC is committed to addressing this inequity - at the systemic and community level - by working to increase civic literacy among historically underrepresented communities, and working with municipalities to address barriers to engagement.

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What we know:​

  • If cities work for equity-deserving genders, they work for all of us.
     

  • Currently, civic participation does not fully reflect the diversity of local communities due to barriers such as time, language, privilege, and power. 
     

  • Council chambers are colonial spaces that are not safe, accessible, or inclusive for many community members.
     

  • As a result, the voices most often heard by councils are those who face the lowest barriers to participation – primarily wealthy, white, high-income homeowners. 
     

  • The ability to participate in democratic processes and see people with similar lived experiences in leadership roles is critical to feeling a sense of belonging in your community.
     

  • The system requires community input for change to take place. Municipal governments require active participation to make decisions that meet community needs.

What We Do

Community Level

Mentor individuals who have been historically excluded from civic processes through our Watch Council program.
Advocate with community groups and front-line service delivery organizations to highlight their concerns to city councils.
Develop resources to support engagement and demystify civic participation processes.
Develop workshops in partnership with under-represented groups to build civic literacy and advocacy skills.

Systems Level

Amplify voices to councils who are otherwise not heard.
Organize around critical issues and train community members on campaigning.
Research to understand systemic barriers to participation.

"So much gratitude to WTC for the posting a few months back around openings on City Committees. I applied (thanks for the nudge and tips!) and am now on the Arts and Culture Advisory Committee. I would not have known about the openings if it weren't for WTC, and would not have felt confident in applying."

— Kaile Shilling, WTC Member

If you'd like to support our work and help us transform cities into spaces that work for all people, please consider making a donation to WTC.
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