February 1, 2024
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wichita Joins City Bureau’s Documenters Network to Bridge Gap Between Public and Public Meetings
Wichita, Kan. – The Kansas Leadership Center (KLC), Wichita Foundation and members of the Wichita Journalism Collaborative are partnering with City Bureau, a nonprofit civic journalism lab, to bring the Documenters Network to Wichita.
The new participatory journalism initiative is making public meetings more transparent and accessible, training and paying Wichita residents to access the information they need to actualize the change they wish to see in their communities. One of four new communities in Kansas, New Jersey and North Dakota to join the Networks, Wichita is the first city in the state to take part in City Bureau’s growing movement for participatory civic media.
“Public meetings are workshops of democracy, where residents of every American community can witness, learn about, and act on the systems that impact their lives” said Max Resnik, City Bureau’s Director of Network Services. “The Documenters Network is a tool designed to help residents access the information they need to get civically involved and have their voices heard.”
The Documenters Network is a new infrastructure for civic engagement that makes public meetings accessible to everyone. They train and pay residents to attend and document local government meetings and use the information they produce to keep local government responsive and help people organize for solutions to civic issues. Since it was established in 2018, this action-aligned network has trained over 2,200 Documenters who have covered more than 5,000 public meetings across 11 cities.
Wichita Documenters will scrape, standardize and share information on public meetings at the city and county-level — all in one central location.
“Participation in the Documenters Network strengthens the Kansas Leadership Center’s ongoing efforts to condition the civic environment in Kansas so residents and organizations can make progress on tough challenges,” said Kaye Monk-Morgan, president and CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center. “This reporting hopes to educate the populace about decisions that impact our daily lives, thereby giving each of us the opportunity to share relevant opinions and ideas in a timely manner. People with reliable and accurate information are better able to exercise leadership in support of healthy, prosperous communities.”
While the Kansas Leadership Center is driving recruitment for this initiative and managing the grant for this collaboration, the Wichita Foundation has provided the funding to support this three-year project, which will cover the cost of hiring a project manager and Wichita documenters.
“Through this national and local partnership, we are investing in building a more informed and engaged community,” said Courtney Bengtson, Wichita Foundation’s chief strategy officer. “Wichita Documenters will empower community-driven documentation and make information increasingly accessible to all.”
Wichita Documenters is in collaboration with these Wichita Journalism Collaborative partners:
Local residents are welcome to apply and join the community of civic-minded Wichita Documenters.
About the Kansas Leadership Center
The Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) is a first-of-its-kind nonprofit educational organization with a civic mission, national reputation and global reach. Founded in 2007 to foster leadership for stronger, healthier and more prosperous Kansas communities, KLC receives core funding from the Kansas Health Foundation (a private, philanthropic organization). It partners with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, businesses and communities to build cultures that are healthy, productive and well-positioned to make measurable progress on daunting challenges and emergent opportunities. KLC Press publishes leadership books and The Journal, a nationally recognized, award-winning civic issues magazine.
Over the past 16 years, KLC has built a strong and respected institution in Kansas designed to deliver leadership development and culture change at unparalleled scale. Now, organizations across the country and around the world look to us to provide resources and consultation to support their own aspirations for mission-driven leadership education. Learn more at www.kansasleadershipcenter.org.