"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"

Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
(used with permission)

"If you don't like the news .... go out and make some of your own !!"

Wes "Scoop" Nisker, Newscaster


Government is a slow and tedious process. While it often includes citizen and neighborhood involvement, non-governmental, private organizations have created movements and interesting groups which can create positive change in our cities and towns.

I am fascinated by the way groups are created and how they influence public decision making. This blog merely recognizes them and forwards the description of these groups from their own websites.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sprockets St. Paul

Location: St. Paul, MN


The Center for Democracy and Citizenship collaborates with a variety of partners to promote active citizenship and public work by people of all ages. The center’s work is grounded in the belief that a healthy democracy requires everyone’s participation, and that each of us has something to contribute.


Sprockets is a partnership between the Center for Democracy and Citizenship and the City of Saint Paul through the Second Shift Initiative with the Saint Paul Public School District, Saint Paul Federation of Teachers union, and many community-based organizations and individuals. Working together, we aim to ensure that young people in Saint Paul grow up in a culture of learning that spans the many learning environments that impact their academic achievement, skill development, and personal growth so that they successfully meet the demands and expectations for the 21st century.

The Center for Democracy and Citizenship uses the lens of public work, in which people from diverse backgrounds work across differences to solve public problems, create public goods, and build thriving, inclusive communities. A public work approach to education–building on rich traditions of formal and informal learning that emphasize young people’s capacities for productive contribution–focuses on how every young person can be successful as an individual and a citizen. Learning in Cities is also shaped by A New Day for Learning, a report by the Time, Learning and Afterschool Taskforce. The report argues that “the nation’s steady progress as an economy and as a society will end unless we…design a comprehensive learning system throughout the day, early to late, and year round so that young people have a seamless learning experience…with multiple ways of learning, anchored to high standards and aligned to educational resources throughout a community.”

Learning in Cities emphasizes the intellectual deepening of education as a kind of public work.

Through this effort, we are developing vital communities of practice that generate learning cultures, and making the lessons of Saint Paul visible to broader audiences. Saint Paul is well poised to become a national and international model of a city-wide effort to create a learning culture infused with productive citizenship and democracy-building work.

A 21st century definition of youth success

From October through January, 2011, the Learning in Cities partnership brought together 300 business people, parents, young people, teachers, and others across the city for listening sessions. These stakeholders contributed their ideas to define youth success in ways that go beyond grades and standardized test scores. This new definition of youth success will be used as the foundation of Learning in Cities work and will be a guide for future policy and decision-making.

Using data to create a holistic picture of learning and achievement

Recognizing that Saint Paul has rich community resources to extend learning beyond the school day, the city’s Second Shift Initiative is exploring the creation of a data management system that would connect community-based youth organizations and allow the city to map trends in out-of-school time programming and provide data for evaluating its impact on academic achievement.

Bringing licensed and community teachers together through professional development

Through the Learning in Cities effort, the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers has agreed to engage youth workers and licensed teachers throughout the city in developing opportunities for relationship building and reciprocal learning and teaching around K-12 education standards. Licensed and community teachers will come together for the first time at the federation’s annual conference on March 6, 2010.

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