The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized today the City of Eugene’s Little Red and the Pop-up Tour as part of the 2017 Bright Ideas in Government initiative. Little Red and the Pop-up Tour is part of a cohort that includes programs from all levels of government — school districts, county, city, state, federal agencies, and tribal nations, as well as public-private partnerships — that represent the next horizon in government work to improve services, solve problems, and work on behalf of citizens.
In 2015, the City of Eugene began a two-year planning process to envision the future of parks and recreation in Eugene. Seeking to move away from traditional models of civic engagement where only a few voices managed to reach elected officials, Little Red and the Pop-up Tour (see video) was launched. In its first two summers, Little Red spontaneously popped up at 40 community hubs throughout Eugene at events, parks and retail parking lots and was successful in reaching more than 4,000 residents.
"Our goal going in was simple. Meet people where they would already be and surprise them with something delightful,” said Carrie Peterson, one of the initiative’s organizers. "Participants enjoyed photo and story-telling booths, pedal powered music, children's activities, and free ice cream bars donated by So Delicious Dairy Free. I don’t think people expected that being involved in their community vision could be this much fun."
"These programs demonstrate that there are no prerequisites for doing the good work of governing," said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Ash Center. "Small towns and massive cities, huge federal agencies and local school districts, large budgets or no budgets at all — what makes government work best is the drive to do better, and this group proves that drive can be found anywhere."
Bright Ideas are showcased on the Ash Center’s Government Innovators Network, an online platform for practitioners and policymakers to share innovative public policy solutions. Please visit the Government Innovators Network at http://innovations.harvard.edu for the full list of Bright Ideas programs, and for more information regarding the Innovations in American Government Awards.
About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence in governance and strengthens democratic institutions worldwide. Through its research, education, international programs, and government innovations awards, the Center fosters creative and effective government problem solving and serves as a catalyst for addressing many of the most pressing needs of the world’s citizens. For more information, visit www.ash.harvard.edu.