Get Engaged! A Guide to Getting Involved in Your Community

Date: October 2, 2017 - October 30, 2017
Time: 5:30 - 8 p.m.
Location: The Governmental Center, 400 Boardman Ave, Traverse City, MI 49684
Contact: Eric Walcott, 517-353-9106,


Get Engaged! is a 7 session course that takes place over a matter of weeks. Each session teaches specific topics that will help you learn more about local government, your rights and responsibilities as citizens, and how to get involved in your community!


Monday, October 2
Wednesday, October 4
Monday, October 9
Wednesday, October 11
Monday, October 16
Wednesday, October 18
Monday, October 30

Participation in ALL sessions is expected. 


There’s been a noted decrease in civic engagement across the county that’s been taking place for years now. Participation is even lower at local government levels, where voter turnout for local elections is consistently lower than federal elections, and residents don’t engage with their local government. There’s less and less attention being paid to what goes on in local government, and thus less awareness of what local government does. In addition, in the current political context, there seems to be an increasing number of people from a variety of ideological standpoints who are looking to get more engaged but simply don’t know how to do so effectively. Get Engaged! aims to educate residents on how to get involved in their community and engage with their local government, and where to go to get informed on these issues. 


Instructors for the training program include MSU Extension educators

Session 1: Getting to Know Your  Local Government— In this session, get familiar with your local government, including how your local council or commission works. Take an online tour of what documents are accessible in your community via the internet from local officials.  Find out what you  have a “right” to access under Freedom of information and Open Meetings Act.  Learn how to spot “fake news” and how you can impact your community positively. 

Session 2: Government Accountability and Ethics—Participants will increase their understanding of how a person’s values are based on life experiences, core ethic principles, role of public office, key Michigan Ethics Laws, and decision making.

Session 3: Communicating Effectively with Your Elected Officials and Communicating Through Conflict—In this section learn some quick tricks through hands on activities to help you communicate through conflict.  Experience how understanding your own nonverbal and verbal communication skills can affect the situation.  In addition learn your own conflict style and how understanding that may help you to communicate more effectively and efficiently. 

Session 4: Follow the Money: Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go? - In this session, participants will become familiar with the many complexities and restrictions facing elected officials in prioritizing projects, generating income and paying for services the public has come to expect of its local government.  Actual local examples for discussion exercises and role-playing will complement the session.  

Session 5: Your Rights and Responsibilities as Citizens—participants will explore the historical context of civic responsibility, know which governing documents include citizen rights and responsibilities and understand how they may be applied in everyday life.

Session 6: How to Make Your Voice Heard—Learn about how to get engaged in your local community and how to put the tools you’ve learned to use to be an engaged citizen.

Session 7: What’s Next? - Now that you’ve developed the skills and knowledge to get involved in your community, develop a plan for putting those skills to use!


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