NH Listens is a civic engagement initiative of the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. We are committed to impartiality in our mission of creating and sustaining a fair process for public engagement. We partner with public officials, organizations, and leaders in all sectors to gather broad input that can lead to improved practice and policy.
Nothing about us without us1
We help communities bring people together to deepen authentic participation in issues that matter to public life. Old patterns exist in communities that elevate the voices of some and marginalize others. We believe when people can bring voice and agency to community decision making, fair and equitable outcomes are possible and more likely. We help actively remove barriers to inclusive public participation, honor a full range of community interests, and ground solutions in local knowledge.
Authenticity and Integrity
We work in service of the public to generate solutions for our most pressing challenges – even when the work is messy, uncertain, and overwhelming. We believe in doing what we say we will do and being transparent in our methods and our motives. Building public trust takes time and ongoing attention. We offer skilled, observant, and honest people to support your initiative.
The only cure for bias is other people2
We know collaboration can be hard, and we believe solving complex problems will require it. A mix of perspectives helps us recognize and temper our own biases (we all have them). We help groups face biases (of all kinds) and bring skills and attitudes that build trust for ongoing partnership and community good will.
Complexity and Humility
There are things we don’t know
Our communities struggle with difficult questions to which no one person knows the answer. We bring humility and a can-do attitude to our work. We believe it takes data and stories from neighbors to create change. We don’t assert our own answers. Instead, we create space to grapple with hard options and find pathways to move forward together.
Persistence and Flexibility
We are in it for the long haul
We respond to current circumstances in local communities and bridge projects by committing to New Hampshire over the long haul. Most communities experience multiple initiatives that lack connection and integration. Our goal is to leave behind approaches that build muscle memory for deep fairness and effective collaboration so that one project brings strengths and capacity to the next one.
1. Nothing About Us Without Us: Disability, Oppression and Empowerment, James I. Charlton (1998), JSTOR online access
2. The Righteuous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt
- Engaged and equitable communities
- Increased participation in public life
- Improved community problem solving
We believe engaging all voices in a community can have transformative effects:
- Increasing effectiveness of decisions that get made
- Adding legitimacy to the work of public leaders
- Increasing equity as more voices are included
Since 2010, we have worked at the local and state level to support civil, public deliberation of complex issues affecting New Hampshire residents’ everyday lives. NH Listens has been an Anchor partner with Everyday Democracy since 2015.