The elements that comprise civic infrastructure are simultaneously tangible and intangible. A city’s civic infrastructure includes its network of organizations, institutions, and agencies both within and across sectors as well as the financial resources these networks are capable of mobilizing. It also includes elements that could be characterized as civic engagement, the harder-to-measure aspects of a community’s ability to engage and empower diverse stakeholders, build and sustain relationships, cultivate trust and understanding, and manage conflict.
While building a strong civic infrastructure is a critical step for cities that seek systemic, sustainable change, it is not an end in itself. Instead, the ultimate outcome should be true civic capacity, which is the ability of a community’s decision-makers and stakeholders—not just its civic infrastructure, but also its leaders—to influence policy and drive change.
Note: a number of civic infrastructure indicators will be presented both on this site and in the form of research briefs, links to which will be posted here:
- Collaborative Leadership – Public Perceptions in Fall River and New Bedford
- “Civic Infrastructure in Gateway Cities,” published in Volume 15, Issue 1 of MassBenchmarks