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):
|#0|#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.
Raw information. Posted. Done.
That’s a problem.
The City of Northfield, MN where I live has a history such failed project web sites, some done by the city staff, some by consulting firms. Some recent examples:
Think of the parallel: You’re in a traditional public meeting and someone asks a question about why the city is doing something. Do you provide a concise rationale, spelling out its benefits and role in larger community goals, or do you hand them a binder with 300 pages of reports and memos and tell them to have at it?
What should local governments do instead with their project sites?
Provide however much content it takes to express, up front and at each step along the way, what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how people can participate. No more. No less.
Exactly. Unfortunately, Doyon doesn’t provide examples so here’s one I’ve worked on for the past 9 months: the GrandView District project blogsite for the City of Edina, MN.
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