I’ve created a new blog called Engage Citizens as I’m shifting more of my 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 here on my Wigley and Associates blog but most of my blogging energy will be devoted to the 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 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
Matt has been blogging about the project for nearly a year on Blogger and so we’ve imported all those posts into this new blog. He presented the final draft of the proposal to the School Board earlier this week and the Board will likely vote on it at one of their February meetings.
I did a half-day version of my Blogging and Social Media for Leaders presentation at the League of Minnesota Cities’ Leadership Conference for Experienced Officials at Brooklyn Center yesterday.
Here’s my Powerpoint, slightly revised from the previous one in Mankato and the one in Nisswa.
I did a half-day version of my Blogging and Social Media for Leaders presentation at the League of Minnesota Cities’ Leadership Conference for Experienced Officials at Mankato. Photo above left is LMC Executive Director Jim Miller at last night’s banquet. Here’s my Powerpoint, slightly revised from the one I did two weeks ago in Nisswa.
I did a half-day version of my Blogging and Social Media for Leaders presentation at the League of Minnesota Cities’ Leadership Conference for Experienced Officials at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, MN this weekend.
My colleague, Ted Davis (Davis Communications) did his presentation titled, Avoiding the Crisis Management Circus Through Communications Planning presentation on Friday afternoon. I did mine, titled Taming the New Media Beast: Networking and Communicating with Social Media on Saturday morning.
It appeared to be a tough crowd. Left photo: Was Ted Davis (@TedDavis) really sending Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht (@BemidjiRita) to the corner for misbehavior? Right photo: Were these guys really that unhappy with my tweeting this photo of them?
Ted and I will doing our presentations again at the upcoming LMC leadership conferences in Mankato and Brooklyn Center.
For those who attended my session, here’s my Powerpoint:
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).
I’ve started working with Gary Sjoquist, Director of Advocacy at Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) in Bloomington on the 2nd Annual Fat Bike Winter Summit & Festival, to be held Jan. 25-27 in Island Park, Idaho. The Fat Bike Summit (Friday) is for land managers, parks staff, and policy makers to learn more about fat biking in winter and to discuss possible changes in policies. The Fat Bike Festival (Sat/Sun) is for anyone.
I’ve been hosting weekly web conferences (planning meetings) via my GoToMeeting account with the team that’s organizing the Summit. We’re using the new Basecamp to facilitate all our other communications. We’re planning to use GoToWebinar to host some panel discussions during and after the Summit.
I’ve set up the Fat Bike Summit blog on WordPress.com and we’re just getting going with the Fat Bike Summit Twitter feed. We’ll have a Facebook page up shortly.
And if all goes as planned, I’ll be at the event posting updates throughout to the blog and Twitter and maybe doing some live streaming.
I spent a day last week at Red House Media (RHM) in Brainerd, MN, conducting a staff training session on how to use Basecamp, the web-based collaboration/project management service by 37signals which I’ve used since 2004.
I’ve gotten to know RHM’s founder and CEO Aaron Hautala in the past year, as we have a mutual love of mountain biking. He’s president of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew, the club which helps manage my favorite MTB park, the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail System in Crosby/Ironton, MN. When I offered to help with the club’s blog site and mentioned that it would be best if we used Basecamp for our communications, he told me that his company had been using it for a while but wasn’t quite getting full use of it. He wondered if I was interested in helping.
The night before my training session, I discovered that 37signals had announced a new Basecamp last spring, and that the one I was using was now called Basecamp Classic. Oy. Evidently I’d unsubscribed to the Basecamp enewsletter years ago and thus, never got the memo on the new version.
Once I took a look at the features of the new Basecamp, it became clear that this was the version I needed to present to the RHM staff. So I crammed into the wee hours, moving a couple of my own Basecamp Classic projects over (easy) to the new Basecamp for experimentation. I was wowed.
I showed up the next morning, prepared but still sweating it. I told my tale of woe to RHM staffers Heidi Lake (media director), Keith Larson (art director), and Anna Johnson (newly hired production manager). They were more than understanding and whenever my lack of knowledge became apparent, they gamely joined me in a hunt for answers. By day’s end, they were off and running. I was tired but pleased and excited about getting my own Basecamp Classic projects moved over to the new Basecamp. If you use Basecamp, you should, too.
Local citizens were staffing a Minnesotans United for All Families table at the Taste of Northfield in late July. I purchased a ‘Vote No, Don’t Limit the Freedom to Marry’ t-shirt and a bumper sticker for my laptop. It’s been cool to have many people make a "I like your shirt" type comment when out and about. You can get ‘Vote No’ gear from the MN United online store.
I’ve been blogging my opposition to the marriage amendment on my Locally Grown Northfield blog for many months. See all my posts here. When I saw that Northfielder Ben Witt, proprietor of Milltown Cycles, published a blog post titled If I May in which he states his opposition to the marriage amendment, it occurred to me that I should do likewise here. Ben wrote:
This decision is not one that I have come to without serious personal reflection. Weighing in in any political debate as a business carries risk no matter what you are advocating for. I have no doubt that this will upset some of our customers. I fully expect that this will lose us some of them. If I offend some of you I am sorry for it.
I do this for the love of my family and friends who are gay, because they deserve the right to share exactly the same relationship that I cherish with my wife.
In mid-September, I’ll be collaborating with fellow Northfielder Tim Freeland of Freeland Web Design to teach the WordPress for Noobs course.
Tim’s been working with many area organizations on their WordPress-based websites. I’ve gotten to know him from his many years of community engagement, some of which he chronicles on his personal blog.
I just met with Tim about this today so we have more than a few details to work out. But this much we know:
- There will be an online-only version of the Noobs course, much like I offered last year.
- There will be a face-to-face version of the Noobs course, offered in downtown Northfield at the new co-working center, The Spur. This course will meet once per week over a 2-3 month period. Participants will also have access to all the online materials and services. Class size will be limited and of course, it will cost more than the online-only version of the course.
- There will be a special offer for those who took the Noobs course last year.
If you want to be alerted to the details, subscribe to my Your Thick Skull email list or follow me and/or Tim on Twitter.
The Spur, the Northfield Enterprise Center‘s new coworking and incubator/accelerator facility in downtown Northfield, had its grand opening last Thursday. I’m thrilled and I’m going to be a member.
The Spur’s sidewalk sandwich board proclaims:
Working alone stinks. Let’s work together.