There is man in Seattle that has spent years organizing the kind of successful public involvement efforts I envision for Raleigh. Jim Diers was a keynote speaker and workshop presenter for the Neighborhood Exchange.
My idea of appealing to people's passions, letting the people in the neighborhoods identify issues, then empowering them to do the work, is not very new after all.
The Exchange was the informative and energizing. However it left us with lots of knowledge and enthusiasm, but little idea of how to take it back to our neighborhoods.
BTW: I've added a new post on my issues forum--a short, blunt response to the some of the most asked about issues.