Matt Lehrman, a longtime nonprofit arts administrator, and John Little, a former City Manager at the City of Scottsdale, have launched Social Prosperity Partners. Their mission is to restore trust, inclusivity and optimism to the practice of civic engagement by designing and facilitating processes of public involvement.
According to Lehrman, democracy should be about community problem-solving, but sadly, that’s far from the reality that is playing out in town halls, city council meetings, and school boards throughout Arizona and all across the country.
“Social Prosperity Partners does not advocate for any single issue, political party or candidate,” says Lehrman, “Our role is to champion the democratic process itself. What’s always more important than winning or losing is that people are welcomed, feel respected, and possess the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to their own communities.”
Social Prosperity Partners offers services to design and facilitate visioning, strategic planning, outreach, listening, and public engagement forums for towns, cities, school boards, homeowners associations and other types of communities throughout the State of Arizona. Their motto “Slow Down & Open Up” signifies a commitment to processes marked by patience, thoughtfulness, and inclusivity.
On August 22, Matt Lehrman will lead a workshop for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns entitled, “From Conflict to Conversation: Practical Skills for Better Public Dialogue“ which leads with the assertion “Disagreement need not be disagreeable.”
Lehrman and Little are unabashedly optimistic about the power of civic engagement. They recommend becoming involved in one’s own community decision-making processes as an exercise for people feeling stressed or helpless amidst national political turmoil.
“Every community’s greatest asset is its people,” says Little. “American greatness is a long and successful history of how people come together, for common cause, in towns and cities, school boards and associations, companies and organizations, to address profound challenges.
Lehrman and Little agree that the value proposition of Social Prosperity Partners is not that they know the answers to any community’s questions, but that they know how to bring people together in ways that build trust and togetherness while exploring options and opportunities.”
Lehrman previously served as Founder and Executive Director of Alliance for Audience & ShowUp.com, the statewide audience development collaboration of Arizona’s arts & cultural sector. Little served the City of Scottsdale for more than 24 years, rising to the office of City Manager after heading Human Resources, Organizational Effectiveness and Transportation departments as well as being appointed Executive Director for Downtown Development.