Welcome to Crowdsourcing Wisdom!

I’m delighted to announce that the book



(and won’t make people wish they hadn’t come)

is done, published, ready and waiting for you!

This book is the culmination of over 20 years of my work with cities, regions, governments, nonprofits and developers all over the country.  It gives you a clear, no-nonsense run down on why it is exactly that our public meetings so often end up feeling so miserable — for everyone involved.  It then gives you a step-by-step process for designing and conducting public meetings that actually generate wisdom, and it concludes with tactics for managing confrontational public meeting situations in a way that’s fair to everyone involved.

If you’ve been doing public engagement for years, I think you’ll find this book both useful and refreshing.  If you’ve never run a public meeting before, you’ll find that this book gives you a set of tools for doing that better — tools you probably didn’t even know you had!  book cover

And if you’re frustrated with how your community does public engagement, or you’re looking for a way to start overcoming the build-up of frustration and apathy that’s preventing your town from finding new solutions to your tough issues, this book will give you the first steps of a new way forward.

Pretty good deal for a few bucks.

You can find this book, and other Wise Fool Press publications, in any format you want:

If you like print, you can order copies from Lulu.com right here

If you use a Kindle, you can buy it for Kindle right here

And if you want a PDF or an EPub file (the kind used by Apple products and NOOK), you can get those right here.


And learn more about the book and upcoming trainings, samples and other good stuff at www.crowdsourcingwisdombook.com

Of course, reading a book about how to do something isn’t anywhere near the same as trying it out yourself.  I’ll be giving workshops on how to Crowdsource Wisdom in different places over the next few months. If you’d like a workshop for your organization, staff, conference or upcoming meeting, send me a note at della.rucker@wiseeconomy.com. In-person and online video training is available.

Reviews of the Local Economy Revolution

I’ve posted a couple of the reviews that the book has received on Amazon here before, but I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the whole collection.

Here’s what your colleagues have said (names removed to protect the innocent!)  If this piques your interest, you can get your own copy in digital or hard cover right here.  


I have heard Della speak as several conferences and will always go to one of her sessions if at all possible. Now you know my bias. I have only met her at conferences though.I saw that her book had come out and I needed a book to read while traveling to a meeting. I read the book on the flight and thoroughly enjoyed it. I look at several things that are going on in my own community and I can see how it would be very useful to share this book with the new director of the Economic Development Corporation, or maybe members of the City Council. The Mayor and City Administrator could benefit from the ideas expressed here. Other City Department Directors might grasp where I am coming from if I could get them to read it. Maybe we should do a book club around this.This is not a how to book unless you are looking for a book on how to adjust your view point. Della explains why we need to make those adjustments but doesn’t try to tell us what those adjustments will be. Each community will have to determine those on their own. Her use of common language and metaphor should make it possible for those of us who are professional planners and economic developers to explain the concepts and why the change is necessary to those we work with.
If you’re passionate about making better places, especially places that have seen better days, you’re going to enjoy this book. Della’s a triple threat with experience in planning, economic development, and public engagement and the book provides valuable perspective on all three fronts. I finished feeling reconnected to the “what” that is the work, the “why” that it the purpose behind it and walked away with some new ideas on the “how” front. Most importantly, I finished feeling pretty brave and ready to tackle the hard stuff.
Most such attempts in creating a new future start on the far side of the chasm providing some vision of a shiny city on a hill, too often with no real means of crossing the span and, more often than not, no real grounded connection with this side of the chasm. This is where Della excels by taking what could be multiple complex concepts and making them not only more comprehensive, understandable and approachable but also initially, potentially addressable. It will get more complex and difficult but Della provides a good foothold to begin the ascent.
First let me get my bias out of the way. I have known Della for about 15 years and she has shaped many of my own thoughts regarding economic development in our many conversations.I found this book easy to read and more importantly an easy tool to communicate with people who may not be focused on economic development every day (i.e. politicians, city managers, other departments, community residents). You will find in this book many ideas and concepts that will challenge you to think differently and help others to think differently about your local economy.The book doesn’t sell snake oil or other one time fixes. That is the central point. One time fixes have had a poor record and in some cases cause more harm.For anyone wishing to explore a new perspective regarding economic development, or needs a tool to help communicate a shared perspective to others this book is a must read.

Economic development is the heart of urban planning–cities live & die as their economies change & adapt. Yet the soul of economic development is the unique spirit of your city. Della Rucker gives us a conversational series of essays–part blog, part extended TEDx–challenging us to look more clearly at planning & development in the trenches.
Do you have a review of the Local Economy Revolution?  Be sure to channel your inner Roger Ebert!

From…well, me: Asking for your Support to Test a Way to Get More Tech People Involved in Making Communities Better

I posted this last week at EngagingCities.  We’ve got a potential to demonstrate to a lot of tech people how they could actually make a difference in their communities.  But to get that chance, we need help.  As in, your help.

Here’s the lowdown:



I usually try to keep a relatively low profile at EngagingCities, but we need your help with something.

We have proposed a session for South By SouthWest Interactive (the tech conference part of the mega-event SXSW, held yearly in Austin, Texas.  The session that we’re proposing to do is called

Hey Techs: Yes, You Can Help Your Town. Here’s How

Here’s the game plan:

Lots and lots of people who design software, produce music, make videos, do social media stuff and lots of other types of things show up for this event.  Thousands.  There’s usually sessions on all sorts of app development, open data use, and even a few that get into social impact, but not many that actually help tech-oriented people understand exactly how they can use their skills in the places where they live to help improve the lives of the people who live there.

As a lot of the articles we’ve posted here over the last couple of months has indicated, people increasingly realize that using technology to make a difference takes more than just building a cool app — it requires understanding how local governments work, where their pain points and points of resistance are, and how to craft and maintain an online tool that makes an impact on people’s civic lives.  And for people who aren’t in the biggest cities, that can be extra tough.

So what we’re proposing is part eye-opener, part demonstration and part group exploration (in true hacker style).  If it works, it may also be a training/engagement model that we can share with you to help you open the doors to your tech/community potential in your town, as well.  We’ll post the materials and either audio or video here for your use as well (depending on what SXSW will let us do…)

A big piece of the SXSW selection process is popular vote.  So if that sounds like it might benefit you, please give us a vote — even if there’s no way you’re going to Austin. We’ll make sure you get to learn from it.  When you go to the SXSW PanelPicker, you will be prompted to create an account, but that’s just an email and password, and then you can search all of the session proposals.  You don’t have to be in the USA.  And they don’t spam unless you want them to.

Here’s the description of the session — and if the link in the last sentence doesn’t work for you, it’s http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/39255

If you work in technology, the world of local government and real estate development can seem completely foreign – even though you know it affects everything around you. Learn why your local government people don’t seem to get it, understand why they have such a hard time getting things done, and how you can use your skills and connections to help make your community work better. We’ll share stories from across the world from people just like you in communities a lot like yours, and we’ll discuss together how you might be able to make a difference. Bring your good ideas and your frustrations, and get ready to discover how you can make an important difference where you live.

Voting is only open until September 7, so if you’d like to see this session offered, please vote today.



Thanks.  You’re very nice.

Della Rucker

Managing Editor, EngagingCities



From the Good Ideas File: What do entrepreneurs need from local governments?

This article isn’t going to win any Pulitzer prizes, but it contains a couple of very brief but important points about what small businesses (and entrepreneurs, which aren’t quite the same but there’s a lot of overlap) need from local governments.  If you’ve been fed a steady stream of low-taxes-small-government-give-incentives, this might not be what you expected:

Referring to a survey, Al Rasheed said entrepreneurs are looking for places that have talent, a good quality of life and access to markets. On the bottom of their wish list are low taxes and ease of doing business, he said.

And this from Julie Lein of Tumml, one of the coolest accelerators for urban businesses out there:

Lein said entrepreneurs want access to civic leaders as well as help in navigating complex business regulations.

Like most things, summarizing the needs of entrepreneurs and small businesses into a couple of sentences isn’t likely to be fully accurate – it’s a whole lot more complex picture than that.  But note the things that were named here:

  • Quality of life
  • Market access
  • Connections to leadership
  • Help navigating the system (not necessarily a special pass, but help)

I was particularly excited to see this because I’m teaching a webinar for Lorman later in July entitled

Leaders or Feeders: What Governments Can Do To Help Grow Small Businesses.  

And since I brought it up (ahem), here’s the description:

Government officials and elected leaders are facing intense pressure to demonstrate job growth, but conventional big business recruitment efforts involve large budget and staff time commitments – and seldom pay off. Governments are increasingly seeing a need to focus economic development efforts on small business growth, but they soon discover that the same methods cannot be applied – that small businesses have very different needs and expectations. This live webinar will help you get inside the mind of a small business owner and understand their assumptions and challenges. We will then examine methods being used by large and small communities across the country to help support small business growth by providing relatively low-cost types of assistance. These “feeder” types of assistance focus on cultivating a robust, highly interconnected small business environment that can catalyze growth faster than conventional methods. We will also examine effective roles that governments can play in actively changing a community’s small business environment through targeted efforts that make the best use of governments’ strengths and capacities.

Sound good? It actually does get better:

If you or any of your colleagues, friends, acquaintances or random strangers sign up for this webinar, you can get it for 50% off the usual price! 

Just use this code at checkout: T8587836

I hope you’ll join me!

And check out Tumml.  Seriously, they rock.


Deals and more Deals: 20% off print book via Lulu.com

I love my e-reader, but sometimes you just want a regular paper book – especially if you’re hanging by the pool or the beach.  And if you really want to look like one of the smart kids, you’ll want to get caught on the beach reading The Local Economy Revolution  or Why This Work Matters, right?  fat penguin flying majestically over Toledo

Of course you do.  Of course.

From now ’til June 30, Lulu.com (the producer of the print local economy revolution coverversion of Wise Fool Press books) is offering a sweet 20% discount on all print copies.  All you have to do is put in the coupon code JFS20 at checkout.  That’s a pretty sweet deal!

You can go to either book’s web site above and click the print version link on the “Get the Book Page,” or you can go to Lulu directly — either way, same difference.

Enjoy and happy reading!

Why this work matters cover


20% off Print version of Local Economy Revolution now through March 31

Sometimes I don’t know what’s going on with those people, but we’ll take it…

I just received the following message from Lulu.com, who produces the print version of The Local Economy Revolution: 


Celebrate International Waffle Day!

This morning, while eating our plate of waffles, the toaster left an amazing message on one of our syrupy circles — offer 20% off everything on Lulu.com!

Of course, we’d never ignore what a burnt waffle tells us to do. That’s right, everything on Lulu.com is 20% off through March 31 with code WAFFLESSAY20.

Shop now, and don’t forget to eat your waffles today.

So, I know better than to argue with people who get messages from waffles.  If you haven’t gotten a print copy of The Local Economy Revolution for yourself or your favorite board member/employee/colleague/spouse/ assorted Person Who Gives a Damn, here’s your chance.  Get on it.

discount code WAFFLESSAY20

Don’t ask me. But do buy the book.


Flash sale at Lulu: 20% off print versions of The Local Economy Revolution until March 10

Just (and I mean just) got a note from Lulu.com, the provider of print versions of The Local Economy Revolution: What’s Changed and How You Can Helpthat they are having a “Flash Sale” from now through 11:00 PM EDT  Monday, March 10.  Which means that you can get that copy of The Local Economy Revolution for a lot less than you were planning on.

Just type in promotional code SUPER20 when you check out.

As a reminder, you can also buy the book for the Kindle e-reader — either on a Kindle device or a free Kindle e-reader app for phone or tablet or computer.

Have a good weekend!  And read stuff that feeds your head and your heart.