Chris Adams is president of Engaged Public and project director for TBD Colorado.
In his 2012 State of the State address, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper launched a major new initiative aimed at getting Coloradans involved in setting the course for the future.
The effort is called TBD Colorado (for "to be determined"). TBD invites Colorado residents to learn about some of the major issues in the state — including health, education, transportation and the state budget — and then to set priorities and consider possible policy changes.
In order to ensure that Coloradans have accurate and balanced information, each issue has a framing committee to help present key background information and identify some of the big picture questions. For health they are:
How does Colorado become the healthiest state?
How can Colorado build on its strength and reverse the obesity trend?
How can Colorado reduce economic losses due to the uninsured?
How could Colorado reduce the increasing cost of public programs like Medicaid?
How should Colorado invest in children's health?
If TBD is successful, it will help the state break stalemates on issues of great importance to current and future generations.
Colorado has distinguished itself through the role ordinary residents have carved out for themselves in governing the state. We are a people who like to know the facts, build a vision and then think of creative ways to achieve it.
TBD Colorado is open to all Coloradans and offers a variety way to participate. All of them start at www.TBDColorado.org.
On the website, you can nominate yourself for a limited number of openings at regional meetings (nominations for regional meetings close on a rolling basis from March 16 to April 5), download a "meeting packet" to hold your own conversation (available April 1), nominate yourself for summit meetings to be held in June (register on the website by April 15) or online (starting this summer).
Public engagement can be messy and time-consuming, but, more often than not, it works. When introducing TBD Colorado to the state, the governor invoked one of the wisest Americans in history, Abraham Lincoln: "With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed."
While this was true in Lincoln's time, as a lifelong Coloradan, I believe it is even more about our state today.