This Case Foundation-commissioned paper offers specific recommendations for getting people from all walks of life to discuss what matters most to them, and then giving them the tools and technologies they need to identify problems and develop solutions together. It also warns against top-down solutions that require people to “plug into” existing programs or campaigns.

Many Americans have turned away from politics and political institutions for the same reasons they have turned away from other civic institutions — a sense that what they do matters little when it comes to the civic life and health of their communities or the country. Shifting to an approach that puts citizens at the center can be a powerful way to help ordinary people take action on the problems that are most important to them, and in the ways they choose.