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Let's Talk about Civic Engagement

Crossing Cultural & Language Divides

As we work here at PlannersWeb to help you discover new ways to help your communities, we’re launching a series of audio interviews with people who are doing something that you might find useful. If your have feedback for us or leads on good interviews, please let me know through the Contact Us link on this page.

In this installment, I talk to Bobbi Kay of a non-profit organization called the Clarkston Development Foundation (CDF) in Clarkston, Georgia. This small Atlanta suburb is truly a microcosm of what we’re increasingly dealing with in communities across the country.

graphic showing the word Welcome in different languages

42% of Clarkston’s population is foreign-born, with residents from dozens of language groups across the world — thanks in part to the city serving for more than 20 years as a refugee resettlement destination. Within this context, CDF strives to build the community’s capacity to identify its needs proactively and figure out how to address them.

This interview focuses on one of CDF’s current initiatives: crowdsourcing community priorities and developing a community-driven process to decide what to do about them. How would you do that — with 92 people who speak 10 different languages? You’ll have to listen to find out!

In the last few minutes of the interview, Bobbi and I explore the role that web and mobile technologies could play in a process like this, and the struggles that CDF encountered in trying to figure out how to do that.

You can stream or download the podcast from any browser through the Soundcloud bar below or access it through the above link. You can also download the free Sound cloud app at

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photo of Della RuckerDella Rucker, AICP, CEcD, is the Principal of Wise Economy Workshop, a consulting firm that assists local governments and nonprofit organizations with the information and processes for making wise planning and economic development decisions.

Rucker is also Managing Editor of EngagingCities and author of the recent book The Local Economy Revolution: What’s Changed and How You Can Help — portions of which will be serialized here on during 2014.