Memphis Public Library and Information Center, Tennessee
This spring, eight local government representatives came to the Memphis Public Library to meet with over 150 participants of our “Speed Repping” program, which allowed citizens of Memphis of all backgrounds and ages to meet with each representative one-on-one for three minutes in a “speed dating”-style event.
Although the city of Memphis hosts town hall events where citizens are able to meet and ask questions of local government officials in large group settings, no opportunities exist for individuals to personally engage with their representatives, either in order to get a question answered or to better understand them as people. Likewise, government officials lack opportunities to connect with the people they serve.
This opportunity allowed citizens to personally meet their representatives in a one-on-one setting and ask them questions about who they are, what they do and how local government operates. Representatives were able to connect with the people they serve and improve communication between their offices and the public in a relaxed, private atmosphere. We also partnered with two local schools to teach students about the political process.
The county mayor, the city mayor, city council members and the city’s heads of the library, fire, police and utility services all came to the library to connect with citizens. 150 people participated in the event, including students from two partnering schools. This program engaged the city of Memphis in civic dialogue with local leaders in a peaceful, educational setting. We hope to make this an annual program at other Library branches in the future.