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Having been designated as an All-America City in 2020 by the National Civic League, Franklin has every reason to be proud.

It also has reasons to not let the award go to its head.

“It’s really all about community engagement and how we work to build a stronger community,” Franklin City Administrator Eric Stuckey said. “We’re honored to have received the award, but we also know that’s a responsibility in terms of sharing our story and how that can help not only our community but communities across the United States.”

That’s where the National Civic League’s Civic Index plays a vital role. It’s a self-assessment tool used by cities and agencies across the country for measuring a community’s civic capital, and it was the topic of discussion at Franklin Tomorrow’s FrankTalks lecture Monday morning.

Panelists included Doug Linkhart, president of the National Civic League, as well as Stuckey, Franklin Mayor Ken Moore and Patrick Baggett, board president for Franklin Tomorrow. Mindy Tate, executive director of Franklin Tomorrow, facilitated the discussion.

“We encourage cities, even those that won the All-America City award years ago, to look at themselves every now and then and question what an All-America city should look like,” Linkhart said.

The National Civic League, which was founded in 1894, developed the civic capital concept about 35 years ago, according to Linkhart.

“Civic capital is something we came up with that describes the fabric of a community, the civic infrastructure,” he explained. “It’s the relationships between people that make things happen. It’s the relationships that are sometimes formal titles like mayor and aldermen and sometimes informal — community leaders from different ethnic groups or gender groups or age groups that stand up and say, ‘I want what’s best for my community, and how do we make Franklin proud of who we are?’

“I love the community spirit in Franklin, and it’s clear there’s a lot of Franklin pride. And that’s what the civic index is about; it is gauging not just the level of pride but how can we keep working to be better as a community in every way. Abraham Lincoln once said that without public sentiment nothing can succeed, and with public sentiment nothing can fail.”

To that end, Franklin Tomorrow has set more than 20 public opportunities — both in person or virtual — to engage the community in the National Civic League’s Civic Index to measure the city’s civic capital. 

Civic capital has seven components which all contribute to the formal and informal relationships, as well as capacities and conditions, that enable a community to address important issues and make decisions in a collaborative manner. These seven components are engaged residents, inclusive community leadership, collaborative institutions, embracing diversity and equity, authentic communication, culture of engagement and shared vision and values.

“It was a huge undertaking in 2020 for the city of Franklin, and partnering with Franklin Tomorrow, to win the All-America City Award and designation,” Baggett said in a press release Franklin Tomorrow sent soon after FrankTalks had ended.

“We earned that designation through a rigorous process to highlight the civic engagement that organizations like Franklin Tomorrow, the city, the Fuller Story and various organizations undertake to engage the citizens of Franklin. This is a natural progression in that initiative where we now take all the things we won the award for in the area of community engagement and we take it to the next step, which is this formalized study and self-assessment.”

Franklin Tomorrow plans to initiate the Civic Index on April 19 by asking community members and organizations to participate in the Civic Index conversations that will start Monday and be held until May 7, or take the Civic Index self-assessment independently.

The Civic Index conversations will be coordinated by Franklin Tomorrow and will use a facilitator to discuss the Civic Index self-assessment and have meaningful conversations about civic capital and will last approximately one hour. 

Interested parties will attend a Civic Index conversation hosted by a facilitator at outdoor locations in and around Franklin in conjunction with the city of Franklin Parks Department. Those interested in attending and participating in an in-person event can RSVP here. You can choose which date and time works best, and RSVP for only one session.

Franklin Tomorrow will host in-person events at various Franklin Parks on April 19–29. The dates and locations are below:

  • April 19 at 9:30 a.m. – Jim Warren Park Enclosed Pavilion
  • April 19 at 9:30 a.m. – Pinkerton Park Middle Pavilion
  • April 19 at 1:30 p.m. – Jim Warren Park Enclosed Pavilion
  • April 19 at 5:30 p.m. – Pinkerton Park Middle Pavilion
  • April 20 at 9:30 a.m. – Jim Warren Park Pond Pavilion
  • April 20 at 9:30 a.m. – Aspen Grove Park Pavilion
  • April 20 at 1:30 p.m. – Jim Warren Park Pond Pavilion
  • April 20 at 5:30 p.m. – Aspen Grove Park Pavilion
  • April 21 at 9:30 a.m. – Jim Warren Park Enclosed Pavilion
  • April 21 at 9:30 a.m. – Aspen Grove Park Pavilion
  • April 21 at 1:30 p.m. – Aspen Grove Park Pavilion
  • April 21 at 3:00 p.m. – Harpeth Hotel Board Room
  • April 21 at 5:30 p.m. – Jim Warren Enclosed Pavilion
  • April 22 at 9:30 a.m. – Jim Warren Park Pond Pavilion
  • April 22 at 9:30 a.m. – Pinkerton Park Middle Pavilion
  • April 22 at 1:30 p.m. – Pinkerton Park Middle Pavilion
  • April 22 at 5:30 p.m. – Jim Warren Park Pond Pavilion
  • April 26 at 9:30 a.m. – Westhaven Residents’ Club
  • April 27 at 3:00 p.m. – Jim Warren Park Enclosed Pavilion
  • April 28 at 1:30 p.m. – Pinkerton Park Middle Pavilion
  • April 28 at 5:00 p.m. – Westhaven Residents’ Club
  • April 29 at 9:30 a.m. – Fieldstone Park Pavilion

Additionally, virtual conversations will be held throughout the three-week period before the survey closes in early May. The virtual events will take place from April 20 to May 4. Click here to RSVP for a virtual conversation.

Those interested in hosting an event independently can reach out to Franklin Tomorrow by emailing Director of Community Engagement Carly Jewell at [email protected] for more information.

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