Penn's Project on Civic Engagement to Convene Series of Citizen Forums on Philadelphia's Future

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Media Contact:Jacquie Posey | jposey@pobox.upenn.edu | 215-898-6460December 21, 2006

PHILADELPHIA-- The University of Pennsylvania's Project on Civic Engagement, based at the Fels Institute of Government, is launching a major initiative called Great Expectations: Citizen Voices on Philadelphia's Future, a series of public forums and mayoral-election-related events to identify key issues Philadelphia needs to address to become "the next great city."

Great Expectations, is a joint project of the Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board and the Project on Civic Engagement, funded by the Penn provost's office, Penn's Annenberg School for Communication and the Fels Institute.  Harris Sokoloff of Penn's Graduate School of Education, a national expert on civic dialogue, is PCE's faculty director.  Donald Kettl directs the Fels Institute in Penn's School of Arts and Sciences.

Hundreds of civic leaders and citizens are expected to turn out for the public forums to be held in neighborhoods across the region.  The first forum will take place at Saint Joseph's University, 5600 City Ave., on Jan. 7 at 7 p.m.  More than two dozen forums are scheduled region-wide at community centers, churches, hospitals, college campuses and public libraries.

Great Expectations will include reporting, research and public forums on best practices, innovations and solutions to municipal problems that have worked in Philadelphia or elsewhere; major election-related events, including online, radio and televised debates; and a citywide Deliberation Day two weeks before the May primary.  The project will culminate in the declaration of a citizen-generated Agenda for the Next Great City to be delivered to the new mayor and city council in 2008.

To participate, people can register by phone at 215-854-5956, online at  go.philly.com/registration or by mail at Great Expectations/Citizen Voices, Fels Institute of Government, University of Pennsylvania, 3814 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19104.

Forums held Sundays through Fridays run from 7 to 9:30 p.m., with registration beginning at 6:30 p.m.  Saturday forums run from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m, with registration starting at 9:30 a.m.  Refreshments will be served. Parking availability varies. Car pools or assistance with mass transit can be arranged.

Great Expectations is supported by a major grant from the Lenfest Foundation, with other support from Penn, the Inquirer and the Knight Foundation.  Additional information about Great Expectations is available at  www.fels.upenn.edu/greatexpectations.htm.

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