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The CivCity Initiative: Pre-Election Potlucks

The CivCity Initiative is a new nonprofit focused on increasing awareness of how local government works and motivating residents to participate in civic life. We intend to saturate the community with opportunities to get educated, informed and engaged – from formal events like workshops & classroom projects, to more whimsical outreach like puppet show re-enactments of city council highlights or "Puppies at the Polls."

One project we're developing is the Pre-Election Potluck. It works like this: A host invites 10-12 people – neighbors, friends or co-workers – to their home for a potluck dinner. At least 2 weeks prior to the potluck, each guest is assigned to do research on one local candidate or ballot proposal, so that all local candidates and ballot proposals are covered. At the potluck, everyone shares the info they've gathered & the group discusses the local ballot. It's a way to get educated by crowdsourcing the work on local election issues and sharing it in an informal social setting. We'll be piloting a few of these this summer prior to the Aug. 4 primary.

The goal is to develop a how-to kit this year that describes how to organize a Pre-Election Potluck, as well as a short video to show what it's like to participate. The video will be used to recruit dozens – hundreds! – of hosts in 2016, when there will be significantly more items on the local ballots.

Funded by Ann Arbor, MI (July 2015)