There are federal, state, and municipal elections taking place in 2020. In a 501c3 capacity, Catalyst Miami will ensure that the communities in which we work are knowledgeable about the upcoming elections, understand the importance of voting, and have access to sharing their community concerns with all candidates.
Additionally, we are working to accomplish some overarching themes. First, we would like to open local government processes to encourage meaningful community engagement, resulting in community-informed and -centered government processes and policies. This will include championing procedural changes, seeking opportunities to collaborate further with government staff, as well as supporting community representation on municipal boards and councils. Second, we will be championing a framework of equity in all policies, bringing a voice for equity and intersectionality in all of the networks, coalitions, and policies that we support.
A word on process:
Given the immense diversity of Miami-Dade County, and the depth of our challenges, we believe that public policy must be developed in partnership with the public. Participatory policy requires all stakeholders, especially community members, to be involved throughout the entire policymaking process (development, implementation, and evaluation). Participatory policy results in more impactful and effective policy because as more voices are involved in the process, the more ideas brought forth, support gained, errors avoided, ownership grown, and momentum built for future community involvement.
The key to participatory policy is a passionate and informed citizenry. We actively build this citizenry through our leadership development programs, some of which center around a particular policy topic, but all of which focus on systems thinking, public speaking, and community organizing skills. We also do this through our fellowship programs, which provide participants with funding and technical support to implement their own ideas to address community concerns. Our leadership development graduates and fellows are central to our policy work. They communicate real needs and concerns, ensure that proposed policies meet their needs, build leadership, energize others, and lay the groundwork for long-term change.
As we advocate at the government level for participatory policy (in budgets, strategic plans, planning and zoning procedures, etc.), we must ensure that our own processes are radically open and transparent. One framework to create open processes is to conduct policy via a coalition or alliance, rather than a single organization. Coalition work provides multiple benefits, including unifying an intersectional group of allies, increasing anonymity, and adding clout to policy efforts.