NOTE: Following the Nov. 6, 2018 general election, The CivCity Initiative will cease operation. This page provides descriptions of previous projects and initiatives.
The CivCity Initiative partnered with other local organizations to achieve our goals. Here's a sampling of our past partnerships & projects:
Ann Arbor Votes! This online voter resource – at AnnArborVotes.org – focused on local elections, including candidates and ballot proposals. This site also provided basic information about how to register, how to vote absentee, and where to go on Election Day. It also features a glossary of election terms, a photo gallery and more.
Civic Matters with WEMU 89.1: From July 2017 until November 2018, CivCity founder Mary Morgan talked with WEMU's David Fair each Monday morning at 7:50 a.m. and 9:50 a.m. during NPR's Morning Edition, providing civic news, analysis, commentary and explaining various ways that residents can become more engaged. Click here to listen to the Civic Matters archives.
Weekly CivCity e-Newsletter: Over 1,300 local residents stayed informed by receiving our civic newsletter each Monday. The newsletters are cram-packed with news, info on upcoming public forums, and suggestions for how to get involved in local civic life. Click here to look at our newsletter archives.
Ann Arbor District Library: The AADL's Summer Game from 2015-2017 featured a CivCity series of badges that players earned by doing civic-related activities, such as attending local government meetings, exploring AnnArborVotes.org and more. Thousands of CivCity badges have been awarded!
Columns on Civic Issues: CivCity founder Mary Morgan, harkening back to her journalism roots, filled in the gaps of our community's news coverage by publishing occasional columns on important civic issues. Click here to check out her reports.
CivCity on Social Media: On Twitter – @A2CivCity – we posted notices of public meetings along with agendas, when available. We also highlighted community forums and other items of civic interest. CivCity also informed residents on Facebook and Instagram., and posted election-related info on Twitter at @AnnArborVotes and on the Ann Arbor Votes Facebook page.
July 4th Parade: CivCity volunteers set up a soapbox at the corner of Main and Liberty during the 2017 Ann Arbor July 4th Parade. Kids read excerpts from the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, while other volunteers passed out pocket Constitutions to parade-goers.
University of Michigan Ginsberg Center: Mary Morgan, CivCity founder & executive director, was the Ginsberg Center's inaugural Community Leader in Residence, serving for a year in that role starting in April 2016. She worked with students, faculty and staff to build skills, knowledge and relationships that strengthen a diverse democratic society and further the center's mission and strategic vision of community-engaged learning and service.
Washtenaw Literacy and Eastern Michigan University: With the goal of reaching residents who don’t typically participate in civic life, CivCity partnered with Washtenaw Literacy and Eastern Michigan University to publish a newsletter for adults with low literacy levels. The newsletter provided timely, relevant local content – including information about local government. Students in EMU’s World Languages program helped develop materials for the newsletter, which were used by Washtenaw Literacy tutors as they worked with low-literacy adults. The newsletter was also distributed via other organizations that work with low-income residents.
Party at the Polls: Why can’t voting be a celebration? That’s the concept behind Party at the Polls, which CivCity organized for the 2016 primary and general elections. Oversized games, a food truck, music, civic trivia and voter resources helped create a festive atmosphere as voters came to their polling station on Election Day.
Skyline High School's Communication, Media & Public Policy magnet program: CivCity was a "client" of CMPP students from 2015-2017. Students produced a range of videos, including a mini-documentary about the grassroots community effort to build Ann Arbor's skatepark and PSAs for local ballot proposals.
Building Teen Civic Leadership: CivCity partnered with the nonprofit Community Action Network to work with teens in low-income neighborhoods during the summer of 2016. They helped with voter registration drives, talked with local elected officials, learned about local government and surveyed their neighbors about how to increase civic participation. We're grateful to CAN and Daniel Lopez, a University of Michigan Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) Fellow who led this effort!
A2 Game Designers: We partnered with A2 Game Designers to co-host a "CivCity Game Jam" in October 2015 at the Workantile in downtown Ann Arbor. Participants designed games with a local civics theme. As an example, check out the Ann Arbor Ward Challenge by game designers Chris Salzman and Stephen Kemsley.
A2 Ethics: CivCity partnered with A2Ethics and the League of Women Voters to co-sponsor a Sept. 29, 2016 public forum on participatory budgeting, to introduce this concept to the community and explore whether there’s sufficient interest to pursue a pilot project. Participatory budgeting is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making in which residents decide how to allocate part of a municipal or public budget. The A2Ethics website is a2ethics.org.
Summers-Knoll School: CivCity has supported local civics projects undertaken by Summers-Knoll staff and 7th- and 8th-grade students, starting in the fall of 2015.
University of Michigan School of Information: Students, staff & faculty at UMSI worked with CivCity for the Jan. 16, 2016 MLK Jr. Service Day. They developed interview questions aimed at aimed at discovering voting habits and attitudes of young adults, focused on local elections and issues. They spent part of the day interviewing people on campus, and then analyzed the responses. Their work helped CivCity inform voters of all ages, and to motivate people to vote.
In addition, CivCity executive director Mary Morgan served as a UMSI Citizen Interactive Design (CID) Summer Fellows mentor in 2015, helping students think about ways to encourage civic engagement. In November 2015 she was also a panelist giving feedback on CID student projects in Jackson, Mich.
Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra: Kids who attended the A2SO "Gershwin's Magic Key" performance on Oct. 25, 2015 – part of the Family Concert Series at the Michigan Theater – took part in pre-concert activities, including CivCity's "Color Your Ward."
League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area: CivCity and LWV-AAA co-hosted a workshop in the spring of 2016 on how to navigate local government and influence decision-makers. The workshop was led by Joe Ohren, a political science professor who has taught similar sessions throughout the state.
Ann Arbor Art Center: CivCity participated in the Art Center’s POP-X Ann Arbor festival, a free 10-day event from Oct. 15-24, 2015 at Liberty Plaza. We helped to organize a pop-up lunch on Sunday, Oct. 18 featuring discussions on issues of community interest with elected officials and other local leaders.
Wiki-Wednesdays: In the fall of 2015, Dave Askins – who at that time was CivCity managing director – held editing sessions each Wednesday for Ann Arbor’s LocalWiki, with a focus on civic-related pages. This was an extension of the work we incentivized via the library’s Summer Game. The goal was to strengthen LocalWiki for its possible use as a platform for CivCity’s news & information efforts.
“Eat This Election” Videos: Videographer Donald Harrison of 7 Cylinders Studio (former A2 Film Festival ED) donated his time/expertise to develop a series of short videos to highlight the Aug. 4, 2015 Ann Arbor city council primary elections. The videos were modeled after The Tonight Show’s “Puppy Predictors” segment, with local dog owners volunteering their time/pets. In total, the videos received over 1,760 views.
Pre-Election Potlucks: We’ve developed a toolkit for residents to host Pre-Election Potlucks, which work 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 issues. It's a way to get educated by crowdsourcing the work on local election issues and sharing it in an informal social setting.
Special thanks to the United Way of Washtenaw County for helping fund our work!