Reigniting civic enthusiasm

Name: Ed Fields

Title: Senior adviser and chief strategist

City: Birmingham, Ala.

When Mayor Randall Woodfin ran for office in 2017, the campaign — led by Ed Fields — was excited to see so many Birmingham residents actively participate in the process. Volunteers and campaign staff knocked on 50,000 doors, and Fields got a first-hand look at how enthusiastic the community was about getting involved in local government. Two years later, he is working to reignite that enthusiasm by bringing campaign-style momentum into City Hall.

Now, instead of canvassing to capture votes, he’s sending city staff out into the community to knock doors with the intention of seeing what residents want from their city. It’s part of the mayor’s commitment to keeping the conversation going with the residents who got him into office in the first place. Fields also oversees a community leadership program where a select group of engaged residents meet with each other and public servants to discuss important topics like public safety.

And through the city’s involvement in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, Fields’ and his team are working to ensure city data isn’t used only for government priorities — but that it’s shared in usable ways with residents as well. It’s a unique, comprehensive approach to community engagement that is lowering the barriers for local government participation for residents. “We’re starting to see the same enthusiasm for having a say in how our city functions and serves its community that we saw during the election,” Fields said. “So I’m really excited.”

“Try not to get too sucked into the day-to-day. Give yourself the space to maintain a long-view perspective.”

Celebrating public sector progress and innovation in cities around the world. Run by @BloombergDotOrg’s Government Innovation program. bloombergcities.org

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