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Building Bridges

Building Bridges: How do we listen to each other?

Building Bridges is a city-community collaboration to envision and enact a more productive atmosphere of civic communication in Boulder. Inspired by the work of the Public Participation Working Group, pdf the city partnered with community members and the University of Colorado’s Center for Communication and Democratic Engagement to co-create a vision for what we want our communication landscape to look like and a plan for how to get there.  

More than 300 people have been part of the conversation so far, through public workshops, interviews, online forums and a working committee. And we aren’t done yet!

What we've heard

So far, the conversations have been lively and insightful. Participants said that changing Boulder’s culture of public engagement is rooted in two ideas: community members want to be heard and respected in public processes, and all opinions are important to decision-making. Attendees focused on issues of: 

  • Power 
  • Trust  
  • Transparency 
  • Listening 
  • improving communication structures  

After initial conversations, a core group of participants explored the collective input and developed a vision for civic communication, isolated enduring issues that make engagement difficult, and developed proposals as part of a framework for change.  

What’s next 

In 2020 we had hoped to host and support opportunities to discuss the enduring issues and enact the vision. The demands and restrictions of COVID-19 delayed this goal. Instead, we’re bringing full circle to the conversation by checking in with City of Boulder staff about their experience as part of the Boulder community. City Council has asked for an update on this work at their 2021 retreat and we look forward to sharing what we’ve learned with them. Stay tuned for more. 


Take a deeper dive

If we’ve piqued your interest and you’d like to dig into workshop materials and committee reports, here you will find the notes from the gatherings, participant feedback and more. 

Get in touch

Do you have questions about the Building Bridges series? Are you looking for more information, or would you like to get involved? Contact Brenda Ritenour, Boulder's neighborhood liaison, at [email protected] or 303-441-1895, or Sarah Huntley, Boulder's engagement manager, at [email protected] or 720-564-2111.