Since co-founding the CNYSpeaks Civic Engagement Initiative in 2007, Ph.D. student Greg Munno is often tapped to lead high-profile public meetings, particularly when they involve citizen deliberation.
“I’m trying to do less of these meetings as I drill deeper into my research, but if the engagement meets a series of criteria — it must feature opportunities for genuine dialog, be open to the public, free, inclusive, and tied to public decision making in the public interest — then I do my best to fit it in,” Greg said. “It’s the right thing to do as a member of the community, and it also ties in well with my research.”
Greg has had a few such opportunities recently. Last week, he facilitated a rare joint session of the Auburn City Council and Cayuga County Legislator aimed at exploring the consolidation of economic development resources in the county.
This week, he is leading public meetings on using a new “community indicators” web site to make better, data-informed decisions. The first session was Monday, with a second event Wednesday evening.
The community indicator meetings feature the same-small table, facilitated format Greg developed with Maxwell School professors Tina Nabatchi and Grant Reeher developed for CNYSpeaks. (Greg was the civic engagement editor at the Syracuse Post-Standard at the time.)
“Drs. Nabatchi and Reeher developed this deliberative system that allows for meaningful small-table discussion in which everyone participates, and paired it with mechanisms to share the substance of those conversations with the full room,” Greg said. “The result is more meaningful discussion than you would have at a town hall-style meeting, but with the same excitement and capacity for engaging a large number of people. If designed and executed properly, it is extremely effective.”
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