Delib have an awesome array of partners around the world who help us spread the good word of digital democracy and whilst they’re well known in their own countries, you might not be familiar with them. I therefore thought it would be worth a few minutes of their time, (and in this instance Della’s time), to share some of their insight.

Della Rucker is principal of the Wise Economy Workshop, based in the US, who help large authorities to plan and run their engagement activities. Della has worked on all manner of projects including most recently the Cincinnati Plan Build Live initiative which she discusses below.

When did you first use the internet, and what did you use it for?

Wow… you actually think I have that much memory left?

I had an email address pretty early on, I think, at least for a non-academic…. So first use was probably email, communicating with people in the state capitol a few hundred miles away. I remember that they liked the fact that at least one of the consultants they dealt with actually used email! How spoiled we are….

What’s the most awesome engagement project you’ve worked on?

Tough question. I’ve had the good fortune to be involved in some great efforts — ones that I am really proud of.

We ran a public open house one time in a community where I literally don’t think anyone had ever asked the residents for their opinion on their community before, and the outpouring surprised even the consultants. Another time we did a series of goal-setting sessions across a city that drew on my cooperative education history and put about 1,000 random groups of residents in a process where they developed the City’s comprehensive plan priorities from scratch. And we’re currently working on a project in Cincinnati called Plan Build Live that is using a whole bag of online and offline tricks to get people to be part of creating better land use regulations.

What’s your top community engagement tip?

Lead the process, don’t just let it happen. Create an experience where people don’t just feel stuck saying the first thing that comes into their head, but are drawn into meaningful work that will make a real difference for their community’s future. Don’t pay lip service to community engagement — Mean it.

I think that’s three. Guess following instructions isn’t my strong suit today!

Who’s your hero [and why]?

Current intellectual hero is Umair Hacque for his combination of deep thought, paradigm-breaking analysis and beautiful writing. I often find myself quoting him despite myself. Community heroes…I have a lot of them. I have met a lot of fantastic people who put themselves on the line to make the places they care about better. I feel pretty lucky to be able to swim in those waters.

If you want to know more about Della’s work why not follow her on Twitter @dellarucker or drop her an e-mail?