Systematic Civic Stewardship
Systematic Civic Stewardship increases our capacity for civic innovation, collaboration, and breakthrough results within and across neighborhoods and cities worldwide

The Civic Stewardship Initiative (CSI) involves diverse civic players who steward action-learning initiatives to shift community and institutional practices and policies for the greater good. Participants do this systematically by applying a synergistic set of tools, methods, and structures; at neighborhood, city, and inter-city levels. CSI draws on a number of related disciplines, including civic engagement, deliberative democracy, multi-stakeholder collaboration, community change, organization theory, social innovation, and others.

We are now organizing an action-learning lab in Boston to demonstrate how civic stewardship can achieve breakthrough results at the neighborhood level, while building capacity to scale successes in communities city-wide. The lab's
aspiration is to generate new knowledge, improve local outcomes, and seed new initiatives in Boston and other cities (see overview / presentation).


The civic stewardship approach features an integrative, multi-level structure that enables participants to leverage civic tools and methods systematically:

  • Neighborhoods are framed as communities of purpose, with stewardship coalitions that shape local practices to improve outcomes (health, etc.).
  • Communities of practice foster learning and collaboration, engage institutions, and scale successes within and across cities.
  • Meta-community members help participants build civic stewardship capabilities (for methods, measurement, civic media, and monetization), engage institutions, and scale the work.

Cities are framed as strategic contexts
for achieving societal wellbeing, because they are where problems as well as problem-solving resources are most densely concentrated, and where diverse communities and institutions connect in catalytic ways. Half the world lives in cities today, and it will be 70% by 2050. Get cities right, and we can get the world right.

Civic stewardship draws on our innate human capacities for learning, connecting, and aligning to shared aspirations. Participants transform themselves as they transform their communities and cities.

  • Learning involves education, problem solving, innovation, skill building, and experiential learning.
  • Connecting builds relationships, trust, and collaborative capacity among diverse stakeholders.     
  • Aligning engages stakeholders towards a shared vision that respects both their diversity and the urgency of the goal.

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Slide presentation on Civic Stewardship Initiative

Overview of Boston-area civic stewardship action-learning lab

Related publications and research                                                                        
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The Civic Stewardship Initiative provides consulting and action-research services to civic groups and to private, public, and non-profit organizations that seek to build mutually beneficial partnerships with community-led initiatives.
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