Last week, our friends at City Club and History Link teamed up for the second round of their new project, Civic Boot Camp. We can’t stop talking about what a great experience it was! Boot Camp was built out of the idea that to make a difference in your community, you need four key things: knowledge, connection, trust and action. In turn, Boot Camp was equal parts history lesson, policy briefing, networking session and call to get off the couch and do something–all focused around the issue of the history and development of Seattle’s Waterfront. Seattle Works Program Manager Katie Tiehen and LeadNOW Committee Member Kristin Elia both attended and had this to say:
What did you think of Civic Boot Camp?
Kristin: I found the concept of the boot camp really intriguing–the idea that civic engagement should come from knowledge, connection, trust and action. I think structuring the entire day around that concept and bringing in something very tangible–like the waterfront–was the perfect combination for engagement. You could instantly connect the past, present, and future of the waterfront to various components of civic life in the city and how a more engaged public makes a big impact. And better than that, you could see how structuring future boot camps in other neighborhoods or areas could be based on something current that is directly impacting the community we live in.
Katie: I’m a history nerd, so was completely drawn into Boot Camp with the prospect of a Seattle history lesson–what I didn’t expect and was so excited to get–in addition to a crash course in urban development–was a really clear understanding of the players and paths to action in the current debate over the waterfront. The caliber of the guest speakers we had throughout the day was inspiring–and the group of fellow Boot Campers was really one of the most diverse and challenging (in the best way) groups I’ve encountered in a while! It was amazing to see and talk about how the past has really informed our present and future with regards to how we treat and see our downtown. It was also so inspiring to talk with a group of Seattleites about our shared vision for this place we live and love–we were a diverse group that shared a lot of the same values when it comes to the community in which we live!
What do you think was the most valuable takeaway?
Kristin: I thought the overarching waterfront component was one of the best pieces of the boot camp, but I also found direct action at the end of the day very valuable. We were able to engage with a community organization around the issue of the waterfront and create solid action by voting on a grant to support their work and the larger campaign overall. I found that to be a perfect, concrete end to a day filled with knowledge and engaging conversation.
Katie: I agree on the waterfront theme–I think it’s one thing to talk about civic engagement broadly and another to explore it through a really concrete, pressing issue that is affecting our community right now. I thought the idea of knowledge, connection, trust and action as the foundation for engagement was really interesting when it was introduced, but even more compelling when I really saw those pieces come together throughout the day. It’s really empowering to know the history, know the players and know the routes to change–I’m so excited to see which issue Civic Boot Camp tackles next year!