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CivicMakers Community

Our journey to a clarified vision and a new brand


We have a new website and a new logo. Those words feel REALLY good to say out loud! It’s been a long journey to get here, filled with ups, downs, and a few dead-ends, so we thought it would be fun to share some of the backstory with you.

You may know that CivicMakers started over 7 years ago as a meetup for folks interested in civic tech and civic innovation. At first it was Lawrence and Brian, then Judi, then Cristelle, and then a growing team of civic magicians. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

CivicMakers Logo V1

During the meetup years, when we were focused on volunteer-organized convenings of democracy-minded folks, we had a strong name (CivicMakers!) that helped to create a sense of curiosity about our events. We also had a blue and orange logo designed by govtech stalwart Luke Fretwell. However, other than our raw passion and a sense of forward motion, we had little sense of what we were doing, or how to talk about it.

CivicMakers logo V2On our way to becoming the consulting firm and community of practice we are now, we briefly explored the idea of building a platform for civic tech and govtech practitioners. Yep, this was one of the aforementioned dead-ends. However, it did lead us to a friendship and partnership with the inimitable civic designer Chris Palmatier, who created our last logo (a fond farewell to our salmon and teal gear). And so we sat for many a year, while we turned our attention fully towards consulting services for local government and civic organizations. As a young startup, we had settled on a tried and true business model, but we still weren’t sure exactly what we were doing, or how to talk about it.

Segue to the end of 2019, when we decided to dive into revising our mission and vision with the help of our peers. We’ve never talked about this process, but we decided to experiment with Stanford’s human-centered strategic planning model to clarify our goals and identify “near stars” or strategic priorities for us to focus on to achieve our vision. In the end, we had a group of 15-20 incredible friends, colleagues and mentors participate. It was a great honor to have received so much helpful input from humans we respect so much, and we’re proud of where we landed with a revised vision and mission, along with three near stars:

Our Vision: A world in which inclusive, consistent, collaborative decision-making furthers the betterment of all beings and the planet.

Our Mission: CivicMakers partners with organizations and institutions to advance human-centered, collaborative problem-solving through education, consultation and a community of practice.

Near Star 1 – Praxis & Proof: Continue to deepen our practice in order to become leading practitioners in the facilitation of group processes for creative, collaborative decision-making.

Near Star 2 – Find, Gather & Share: Map the ecosystem of practitioners, partners, funders and decision-makers and grow a community of practice to share learnings so that more humans have access to improved decision-making regardless of their educational attainment or organizational affiliation.

Near Star 3 – Team & Culture: Continuously iterate on the design of our company in a way that more fully embodies our ideal vision for the future (e.g., collaborative, equitable, resilient, distributed) in order to sustain a healthy, balanced and joyful team.

Now, what does all of this have to do with a new logo and website? Although this process helped to clarify what we hope to achieve through our work at CivicMakers and how we spend our time, we still were struggling with how to talk about it.

So, in the summer of 2020, we engaged the power duo of Rachel Dearborn and Xio Lugo of Dearborn Strategies to walk us through a brand refresh process. Their support was absolutely incredible, and you are enjoying the result right now! In particular, they delivered a striking new logo, and a brand messaging framework, including this description:

CivicMakers is a strategic consultancy and community of practitioners that believes in the power of inclusive, collaborative design to shape a better world. Our team of pragmatic optimists partners with governments, nonprofits, and mission-driven companies to unearth human insights and co-create solutions to public challenges. With decades working in the public sector, we approach even the stickiest problems with thoughtfulness, rigor, and an open mind, building lasting relationships along the way. We know that when diverse voices are meaningfully engaged in decision-making, everyone benefits.

With all of this in hand, we were ready to tackle our website (and finally remove Judi’s face from our home page, which she had grown quite tired of seeing). In addition to continuing our work with Rachel, we are very lucky to have found Mangrove Web Development, a women-owned California-based business who have been an incredible partner. We couldn’t be happier with what they delivered, and are so excited to see where it takes us.

And where might that be? First and foremost, we hope that this website more clearly explains the story of who we are, what we do, and why we do it. It’s been a challenge to share more of our work, but we’re ready. Between case studies, a deep dive on our approach, and descriptions of our services, there’s a lot to explore.

We also want to share more of what we’ve been learning. As a way to give back to our incredible community of civic designers whom we’ve learned so much from, we’re launching a resource library with some of our favorite design tools, like our stakeholder assessment and a journey mapping template. And we’re committing to sharing more via our blog, as well as getting back to our roots by hosting more events. Look out for more community convenings, as well as trainings and other learning experiences to help level up the field of civic design and collaborative decision-making. We believe that we will all benefit from more folks doing this work.

Our new brand and this website is the sum total of everything we’ve learned over the course of the last 7 plus years of exchange with an incredible community. We are honored to do the work we do, and humbled when it delivers value for our clients or inspiration for our peers. It’s STILL hard to talk about our work, which is why we can’t wait to hear what you think. Drop us a line! As always, feedback, connection and community is welcome.