I recently shared a report with a colleague that I had not looked at for some time. I thought it might be interesting to my readers and friends.
It’s called Mr. Boyd Connects, and it is a report on one legislator’s experience with seeking to engage his constituents in a different way than usual. The legislator is Congressman Allen Boyd (FL-2), and I wrote the report in 2005. Boyd had embarked on a series of town hall meetings across his district to hear what his constituents had to say about health care. This was long, long before the fiascos we saw more recently, and Boyd’s approach was much different: he listened.
My client, the Kettering Foundation, had asked me to explore the question: What was Boyd hoping to learn? In what ways is a listening approach useful?
The report, I think, still holds resonance (perhaps more) today.
From the introduction:
Being a participant in Public Television’s A Public Voice gave Representative Allen Boyd of Florida a view of the public he usually doesn’t get. “[These citizens] weren’t talking to elected officials,” Rep. Boyd says. “They were just sitting around in a room talk- ing . . . with each other.” The subject was health care. “And then we [policymakers] got a chance to see what they said, and reflect on it. . . . [T]hat is an unusual sort of setting.” Singular enough, in fact, that Rep. Boyd went on to repeat it on his own, hitting the road throughout his Panhandle district to hear what his own constituents had to say about health care. What he heard by using this approach proved useful to him both as a leader—and as a fellow citizen. In a recent interview in his Washington office, Rep. Boyd spoke in detail about what this experience meant to him.
Read on here, and enjoy!