Talking Transition: Harris County
This initiative of the newly-elect Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo will bring together thousands of Harris County residents from all walks of life to have our voices heard about issues that matter to us—from the education of our children to the fairness of our justice system—to share ideas, and to collectively inform the Judge’s priorities for her first year.
We all know that there are no shortage of good ideas in our communities that can help improve our schools, our hospitals, our courts, and the rest of the the ways that county government affects people’s lives. The goal of this initiative is to make sure that all of us who want to improve our communities understand how county government works—and how we can change it.
It’s not an accident that most people don’t understand the workings of government—it’s not easy or accessible because that’s how those who have traditionally been in power have maintained it. But that’s not how it should be. We want to make county government more open and more accessible to every single one of us that has the desire to participate. In other words, we want to make Harris County live up to the idea that democracy is government by us, for us.
How It Works
A plan for this initiative is in the works that includes a variety of ways to learn from residents and to better inform residents.
Survey - Teams of canvassers will be spread out throughout the County to ask residents what needs to be improved among county services and what needs to be prioritized when it comes to planning things like the county budget.
Transparency Project - Posters and announcements throughout the County will provide easily-digestible information about how county government works along with eye-opening statistics intended to make people eager to learn more.
Civic Saturdays - A series of full-day public events will take place on several consecutive Saturdays throughout the County. Each Civic Saturday will consist of:
A large gathering organized around a specific theme (examples include education, health, and transportation) that will give people a chance to share new ideas for improving their communities and to hear from others;
Smaller working groups for people who have devoted time to specific issues to focus on how to best realize community-driven ideas through county government;
Classroom style lessons on the workings of county government.
How to Get Involved
We are building a network of people that are interested in supporting the effort.
We have put together a questionnaire for people to share with us how they might want to be involved. There are ways to participate in the planning and once we kick off the first series of activities.
Who Supports This
Talking Transition: Harris County is an initiative of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo with support from Houston Endowment, Ford Foundation, and Episcopal Health Foundation. HR&A Advisors is providing technical assistance.
The initiative follows and innovates on previous iterations of Talking Transition events in New York City and Washington DC, pioneered by Open Society Foundations with support from other philanthropic organizations.
In Harris County, partnerships with other non-profit groups that will help to shape and execute different aspects of the program will be announced soon.