Declining civic engagement is not new; our trust in government and each other has been waning for decades and people have been slowly stepping away from community life. However, we have reason to be optimistic: across North Carolina and across the entire nation, communities are working together, in new and innovative ways, to engage residents and address critical community challenges.

Unprecedented Times



A ‘state of the nation’ address discussing the state of our nation’s civic health. Where are we failing and why does it matter? With trust in each other and in our institutions waning, where do we go from here?

A Look Back: The History of Civic Engagement in North Carolina

This presentation will provide the historic perspective of civic engagement in America, with an emphasis on North Carolina history. Based on North Carolina’s specific history, what are our barriers and opportunities when it comes to reconnecting to community?

Civil Dialogue


Why can’t we talk to each other?

Foundational to our disconnection, is our ability, or inability, to talk to each other. Why is it so hard to talk to people? This presentation will be both practical and instructive, and will review how can we have better talk to and work with people who are different than us.

Civil Dialogue as an Onramp to Problem-Solving

Re-enactment of a real life disagreement where civil dialogue and discourse has worked.

Moving to Solutions


What Civic Engagement Looks Like

Some communities have a strong culture of engagement where residents, organizations, government and others recognize and value engagement and community decision making. They’ve been able to create ‘civic on-ramps’ that encourage participation and make engagement more accessible. This section will showcase exciting examples of ‘civic on-ramps’ and illustrate civic engagement in ‘action.’

Emerging Success: The Story of Five NC Communities

Our communities look very different now than they did 10, 20, 50 years ago. We need to innovate and create news ways to engage residents across the state. Addressing big community challenges requires new skills (and brushing off old, rusty skills), strategies and experience in talking to and working with each other. This section will highlight five NC communities that are actively working on successful or promising initiatives to increase civic engagement and address critical community challenges. Each community will give a lightning talk highlighting their work and will end with an ‘ask’ for the audience.

Diving Deeper: Building a Successful Community Initiative


Community teams will engage with audience members to share learnings and feedback.





The Imperative of Engagement: the Governor’s Address


Governor Roy Cooper will discuss why we must work together across differences to get things done for North Carolina communities.

Key Conversations on Civic Reconnection


A series of conversations with key leaders across the state on civic reconnection.

Moving Ideas to Action


How can communities and residents can come together across differences to solve big challenges? Audience members will leave with tools and action steps to help their communities reconnect.