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Civic intelligence

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By Todd Cohen

A “civic assembly” should be convened to give America’s civic security the same bracing wake-up call the 9/11 commission has sounded for our national security.

Mapping huge national-security holes that expose the U.S. to terrorists, the commission has urged retooling and integrating the way government gathers, assesses and acts on national-security intelligence.

Our civic security is equally at risk because government fails to address the overlapping roots of poverty, hunger, poor health, illiteracy, unemployment, violence and other crushing social ills.

And it responds by slapping ever-shrinking band-aids on those interconnected and escalating problems.

Lacking government’s resources, charity addresses social needs the best it can, forced to do more with less as government cuts human-services spending while the ranks of people who are hurting grow.

Just as with national security, civic security requires radical surgery, and charity must lead the way.

Charities act as society’s research-and-development arm, but limit their impact by working alone and sniping over turf.

Civic security demands civic intelligence, leadership and teamwork.

By creating a civic-society business plan to pool public and private know-how and dollars, and integrate strategies to address interconnected social problems, a “civic assembly” can help restore civic health and security.


Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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