Harmony in Hampton
A classic case of collaborative governance is the Neighborhood Initiative for Hampton in Hampton, Virginia. Cited by several books on collaborative governance , the Neighborhood Initiative serves as a model for successfully involving residents in the administration of their environments.
Operating in Hampton since 1994, the Hampton Neighborhood Initiative is meant to allow residents and legislators to utilize the human capital available in the community to its fullest potential. The objective of the Neighborhood Initiative is to fulfill their vision of “A city where individuals and families, by creating healthy neighborhoods, have the opportunity to succeed in realizing their full potential for a better quality of life.” They aim to achieve that goal by promoting citizen involvement in the community.
To that end, NIH established an array of satellite organization focused on specific aspects of citizen engagement: The Neighborhood Commission represents the various communities of Hampton, those of action as well as geography. The Neighborhood Office consults neighborhood “leaders and organizations as they move through the process of outreach, organizing, planning and project implementation.” The Neighborhood Organizations, simply put, are the worker bees of the collaboration,.
These three core elements are the philosophical and practical base for the Neighborhood College and IN-SYNC programs run by the city. The Neighborhood College works to ‘inform and train’ residents who are interested in implementing programs in their community, arming graduates with a “Neighborhood Partner Certificate.” IN-SYNC -- Innovations for Schools, Youth, Neighborhoods and Communities -- is a partnership program intended to promote sustainable programs for the community's young.
NIH also administers programs to promote youth involvement in the community, establishing student committees in the school and teenage juries for their peers, developing the next generation of leaders.
While programs are run by the city, NIH depends heavily on collaboration with local organizations and individuals from across the community. Indeed, the basic structure is such that the Initiative would fail to function without such support. In exchange, they reap all the benefits a virbrant, engaged population and visionary leaders can produce.
Additional Information on the Initiative for Hampton can be found: on the City website; in Investing in Democracy: Engaging Citizens in Collaborative Governance By Carmen Sirianni a detailed analysis of how Hampton’s administrative structure was conducive to the Initiative for Hampton’s success; and Learning from neighborhoods: the story of the Hampton Neighborhood Initiative, 1993-2003 by Michael Bayer and William Potapchuk of Hampton’s Neighborhood Office.