Demo Night is a bi-monthly meetup for people interested in democracy and public engagement to share tools and insights, showcase projects, and to collaborate.

Demo Night takes on the third Thursday of the month from 6pm - 8pm. Each meetup begins with an interactive presentation relevant to current public engagement in the Chicago area. The second part of Demo Night is dedicated to "open-space" breakout groups, which are co-learning and co-working groups created and led by attendees.

This meetup is for anyone who designs, hosts, facilitates, researches, benefits from or is interested in processes intended to engage the public to inform or directly influence the decisions of government and elected officials.

What is public engagement?

Using the definition created by the Institute for Local Government, we understand public engagement as “a broad range of methods through which members of the public become more informed about and/or influence public decisions."

Public engagement processes bring public bodies or public officials into conversation with the public. Public bodies can include executive, legislative, and administrative bodies at the state, municipal, and local levels including school districts, City of Chicago Departments and Agencies (e.g. CTA), and Statewide Agencies based in Chicago (e.g. IDOT). Public officials are those elected or appointed into public office - individuals charged with exercising their portion of power under the law. They can include Chicago Aldermen, Illinois State Representatives and Senators, Cook County Board Members, and elected officials from counties, townships, cities, villages, and school districts in the Chicago area.

Examples of Public Engagement in the Chicago area

    • Ward based Participatory Budgeting
    • CPS Local School Council (LSC) meetings
    • Chicago Alternative PolicingStrategy (CAPS) beat meetings
    • City Plans that incorporated public participation: CTA's Chicago Bike Plan and Chicago Pedestrian Plan; Dept. of Public Health's Chicago Food Plan; Dept. of Cultural Affairs' Chicago Cultural Plan; Chicago Climate Action Plan
    • Cook County and the City of Chicago’s public hearings on the budget
    • Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s (CMAP) GO TO 2014 plan