I’ve launched a citizen engagement site for the City of Northfield, as I’ve started working on two more online engagement projects for them this fall, both with Northfield’s Engineering Division, led by Director of Public Works/City Engineer Joe Stapf and his team:
Like I did for the City of Edina’s Citizen Engagement projects in 2011-12 (that’s a link to all my blog posts about it), I’ve created the site with WordPress Multisite so that it’s easy to launch new projects as the need arises.
A good chunk of my time this spring and summer has been devoted to two citizen engagement projects here in my hometown of Northfield that are now winding down: the Northfield School District’s calendar conversation and the City of Northfield’s parking management plan for downtown.
Both projects involved a significant amount of blogging about all the face-to-face meetings, both committees and large public gathering. I’m more convinced than ever about the importance of this complementarity… the subject of a longer blog post that I’m working on.
I’ve put up a citizen engagement spectrum page that offers a framework for not only how to think about it but helpful in actually designing a project, including the online tools to use.
It’s from the opening section (Overview: Citizen Engagement, Why & How?)of a white paper titled Connected Communities: Local Governments as a Partner in Citizen Engagement and Community Building by James Svara and Janet Denhardt.
With the engagement projects that I’ve managed the past few months, I used portions of it in my written proposals and found that it not only made sense to the local government decision makers (city manager, school district superintendent), but it helped to manage their expectations.
I’ve created this new blog called Engage Citizens as I’m shifting more of my Wigley and Associates consulting work to helping local units of government (state, cities, counties, townships, school districts) use online tools and services to—you guessed it—engage citizens.
I’ve been doing online citizen engagement as a citizen since the early 90’s in my work with Northfield.org and continuing with Locally Grown Northfield since 2006 where I’m still active.
But it was my consulting contract with City Manager Scott Neal and the City of Edina back in April of 2011 when we created the Edina Citizen Engagement project that helped me see how other local units of government could benefit from something similar.
I’ve been hired by Northfield Public Schools Superintendent Chris Richardson to manage the online portion of a community discussion about school calendars.
Like their Transformational Technology project, it’s happening on a blog that’s part of the District’s WordPress Multiuser platform.
I’ve put up a project blogsite: A school calendar conversation with the Northfield community. The first community meeting is tonight.
I’m working with Superintendent Chris Richardson and Matt Hillmann, Director of Human Resources and Technology at the Northfield Public Schools District. They’re using my online citizen engagement services to get additional public feedback on the Transformational Technology proposal that’s now being considered by the School Board.
It’s happening on a blog that’s part of the District’s WordPress Multiuser platform:
Transformational Technology for Northfield Public Schools, ISD #659
I’ve got a contract with the City of Northfield to create and manage the online platform for a City project: Developing a parking management plan for downtown.
We’ll be using a variety of online interactive services, including social media sites, to provide ways for the stakeholders and residents to participate online.
I’ll be teaming up with Ross Currier, Executive Director of the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation (NDDC).
On June 22, 2012, I presented and facilitated a session for the League of MN Cities annual conference titled Government 2.0: New Strategies for Engaging the Public:
How are cities leveraging the web to engage the public in local government decisions? Explore how cities are strengthening democracy and promoting more effective local government by using 2.0 technologies.
Here’s my Powerpoint:
Government 2.0 New strategies for engaging the public
Scott Doyon is Director of Client Marketing Services for PlaceMakers, an urban planning firm. He published a post to his Better Cities blog last week titled Public process: Don’t botch your online engagement (also on their Placeshakers blog here):
New tools have made it easier than ever to set up a project website, fast and cheap, for just about any endeavor. So easy, in fact, that people often assume the task of populating it with content is equally so.
It’s not. Instead, what you end up with is city staffers with limited time and limited resources, and who already engage with the public regularly in person, suddenly presented with the task of doing so electronically as well. Not surprisingly under such circumstances, whenever they find themselves in possession of any piece of information even remotely related to the project, their response seems obvious: Put it on the web.
I’ve been getting to know members of the Edina City Council recently, talking with them by phone and meeting with some of them. My main goal is to update them about what Edina City Manager Scott Neal and I have in mind for Edina Citizen Engagement and getting their ideas for what we might do this fall and how to involve them.
Late last month I met with Council member Mary Brindle, Mayor Jim Hovland, and Council Member Joni Bennett. I also had a chance to chat with Council members Josh Sprague and Ann Swenson at a recent Council work session. See the Edina Council bios page for more about them.
In this week’s Edina Sun Current, reporter Katie Mintz has an article about the Edina Citizen Engagement titled Edina launches website for public input.
“I’m excited to see what [the website] will yield because I know Edina has a pretty active online community. People want to interact that way,” [City Manager Scott] Neal said.
He said citizen engagement is important to the Edina City Council, and the website adds a new dimension to the conversation. It is not intended to replace actual meetings. The city paid about $2,500 for development of the site from the communications budget, Neal said.
Yesterday I moderated a one-hour live chat with Edina City Manager Scott Neal about all things related to the economic development of Southdale Center, part of our Edina Citizen Engagement project.
I used CoverItLive to host the chat and it worked well. The only glitch was that I couldn’t get a photo of Scott to appear with his comments.
We had 21 different people attend over the course of the hour, with up to a dozen at any one time. Seven people submitted questions and comments.
This was our first online event. I blogged the rationale for it here. Scott blogged about it here.
In addition to the Southdale Center Economic Development project, Edina Citizen Engagement has two additional blogsites. One is focused on the Edina 2012 Budget and the other on the development of the Edina Grandview District.
I spoke to the Grandview District Steering Committee last week about how the site could be used for citizen engagement.
I stopped by Edina City Hall last week to meet with Edina City Manager Scott Neal about the Edina Citizen Engagement project.
The first citizen engagement project will be focused on Southdale Center’s economic development.
Simon Property Group, Inc., owner of Southdale Center, has requested economic development assistance for the mall from the City of Edina, so the project aims to:
- Provide information to the public about the issue
- Provide a variety of ways for Edina citizens to engage with city staff, city council members, community leaders, and each other about the issue
The blogsite for Southdale Center Economic Development is now up. Follow the updates via its RSS feed, the Edina Citizen Engagement enewsletter, and Twitter.
I’m going to be working with the City of Edina, Minnesota on a project called Edina Citizen Engagement. The city is seeking to engage its citizens with a variety of online tools that help decision makers to address specific, near-term issues.
Edina City Manager and blogger Scott Neal is leading the effort.
The tools will vary, depending on what kind of decision needs to be made. These online tools will complement face-to-face meetings in ways that continually build civic and social capital. It’s my belief that the better Edina’s citizens and leaders get at citizen engagement, the greater the sense of community.