Participatory democracy has been a cornerstone of all Denise’s work. Through town meetings, direct contact with citizens, workshops, and various other community meetings, she has worked to open City Hall to all the citizens, and to continually remind them that this is their house. Among some of examples:
- In 2009, in collaboration with local churches, Denise organized the Mayor’s Volunteer Corps to engage in a citywide cleanup effort. The Mayor’s Volunteer Corp’s efforts were focused in East Cambridge, where volunteers cleaned several of the local parks and fields. The Mayor’s office also sponsored a community clean up in Central Square, an area that had previously become the focus of much negative attention. In addition to the clean-up process, Denise drafted a policy order to request more police presence in Central Square.
- Denise has continually met with members of the community about any issues or concerns they might have – and has often encouraged people to participate in the many city boards and commissions in order to exert a greater influence on the governing of their city.
- Through initiatives like her Town Hall on Race & Class, her Town Hall meetings (for seniors, for tenants, for immigrants, etc), the Climate Congress, and similar workshops, Denise has constantly looked for ways to help people who don’t normally get involved at City Hall events feel more comfortable being part of the citywide conversation. Denise has regularly used her own narrative of civic engagement to illustrate how easy and necessary it is to get involved, and she understands that everyone has the responsibility to help shape their community.