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.
The Grandview District Development Framework project in particular was enlightening because of how the online tools complemented the face-to-face work of the steering committee, consultants, and city staff over the course of 9 months.
Last summer, I presented and facilitated a session for the League of MN Cities annual conference about my work with the City of Edina titled Government 2.0: New Strategies for Engaging the Public.
One of the people in the audience that day was Northfield City Administrator Tim Madigan who, a few months later, hired me to manage the online engagement for a Developing a parking management plan for downtown.
Shortly thereafter, when I heard that the Northfield Public Schools District had a big project in the works, I approached Superintendent Chris Richardson and HR/Technology Director Matt Hillman about adding an online citizen engagement component. I just finished up the Transformational Technology project for them and this week am starting another online engagement project with them titled A school calendar conversation with the Northfield community.
I’ll continue to post client updates on my Wigley and Associates blog but most of my blogging energy will be devoted to this Engage Citizens blog. I’ve also changed my Twitter name to @EngageCitizens. I’ll tweet all my new blog posts but you can also subscribe to Engage Citizens via email or RSS.
I’ve made copies of citizen engagement-related posts from my Wigley and Associates blog the past two years and added them to this blog.
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.
“I would be horrified if a city said enough of these face-to-face public hearings, but for a lot of people that’s difficult to fit in their schedule and it can be intimidating,” said Griff Wigley of Wigley & Associates, who built and is moderating the website.
Wigley coaches businesses, nonprofits and governments on the art of leadership blogging and the use of other social media technologies. He said the tools give residents a convenient, intimate and fresh look at issues.
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.
You can follow the Edina Citizen Engagement project via the blog’s RSS feed, the Edina Citizen Engagement enewsletter, and Twitter.