How It Began
Citizens often complain that government at all levels suffers from a lack of transparency and does not eagerly seek public input regarding public policy, development, and infrastructure projects. Conversely, governmental officials often feel that proper public notice is provided but, the public doesn’t get involved until the last moment. Solving this disconnect is the driving spirit behind CivicCon.
The Pensacola News Journal and the Studer Community Institute partnered to launch a year-long series of speaker events to address this problem. The first event was in September 2017 and events continued throughout 2018. But because of its popularity in the community, CivicCon continued beyond that one-year project. Terry Horne was named the CivicCon Center's first executive director in February 2019. He and his staff work with community volunteers to stage the speaker events while also finding experts to lead civic engagement courses.
How It's Going
As we entered 2022, there had been 47 CivicCon speaker events. Up to a dozen CivicCon speaker events are planned for 2022. Speakers have included some of the nation’s leading thinkers and experts on topics such as city infrastructure that connects us, fiscally-sound practices for communities, getting parking right, the benefits of a walkable and bikeable city, historic preservation, public safety, social equity, diversity, bias, affordable housing, solutions for the homeless and measuring Quality of Life in a community.
In addition to these events drawing a vibrant in-person audience pre and post-pandemic, the live stream audiences have been robust. Often the live stream audience is between 7,000 and 13,000 views with a high of 15,000 views. Community participation and the enthusiasm of volunteers and attendees has been the power behind the CivicCon continuing story. CivicCon also is involved in organizing workshops and impact events related to civic life. These are intended to give volunteers an avenue to make a positive impact on the community.