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People fail at citizenship not because they are apathetic but because they do not think their actions or views will make any real difference.
Daniel Yankelovich

Our Programs: Public Trust


An approach to governance that involves and respects all citizens – where the common good is the ultimate goal –


or a community government determined by the few, who often only look out for special interests.

Participation = Democracy

  • CHG believes vigorous public participation is vital to our democratic way of life. When the French scholar Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in the 1830s, the ingredient he championed about our young nation’s governance was citizen involvement. Throughout our country’s history, it’s been collective action, as in barn raisings or PTAs, that provides the foundation for "community."

  • A common denominator in livable communities is the belief in a "common good" – that is, citizens acting together to choose what’s best for the community as a whole, not just what benefits a few people or interest groups.

  • Unless citizens are engaged in "place-making" for their community, forces that often do not have the town’s best interests at heart may control. Someone needs to speak for that lake, historic building, local tradition, ancient tree, jobs that might be lost, schools, and parks. Corporations and elected officials are responsible to the public, but citizens must hold them accountable by showing up.

  • Many of the proposals advocated by CHG demand citizen participation, as do the proposals of other consultants and organizations. What sets CHG apart is our emphasis on history and heritage, because we believe the more citizens know the history of a place, the more likely they are to be good stewards of that place. Everyone says we need more public participation, but few programs explain how to achieve it!