CityCamp Minnesota: using Community 2.0 to build and leverage trust

I Steve Clift convening participants at CityCampMN 2011attended CityCamp Minnesota (an unconference) yesterday at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on the U of MN’s West Bank. Longtime colleague Steve Clift was one of the chief organizers.

The broad theme was "Community 2.0" in which participants tried to answer these questions:

    • In a world of scarce public resources, how do we take advantage of the 2.0 online, social media, and open source world to help build awesome local communities?
    • How can we connect the interested public with 2.0 skills to work with government, community groups, neighborhood associations, local ethnic associations, and more?
    • How can our local communities be bold, inclusive, open, accessible, wired and darn right innovative when bottom-up connects with top-down for collaboration?

An attendee named Marc Drummond has blogged a detailed description of how the unconference format worked, including his critique and suggestions. You can see comments from others during and after the conference by viewing the #citycampmn hashtag on Twitter.

GovDelivery CEO Scott Burns at CityCampMN 2011 GovDelivery CEO Scott Burns at CityCampMN 2011
I was pleased to see GovDelivery CEO Scott Burns in attendance, as I’d not talked to him since my days at in the late 90s when his and many other high tech companies were located in the Lowertown Cyber Village in downtown St. Paul. 

Scott gave a condensed version of his October 2011 presentation, posted to Slideshare:

When he put up slide 10 that says:

Leverage the trust that this guy has been building up for years

it caught my attention. It’s that word ‘leverage.’ When coaching leaders on their use of social media, I’ve long emphasized the importance of leveraging one’s influence (for example, see my blog posts here, here, here as well as this guest blog post).

But his phrase "leverage the trust" started me thinking about how it applies to leadership. As a leader, your position automatically puts you in a position of influence.  But your behavior over time is the only way to build trust, and that, of course, ratchets up your influence.

Scott’s presentation also got me thinking about how this is true for organizations, too—especially government and its relationship to the citizens it serves. The Edina Citizen Engagement project that I’m working on now with the City of Edina could also be seen as a way for the City to build more trust with its citizens through meaningful online engagement. Will it work? And how will City officials leverage it?  Stay tuned.

Reach the Public blog
In the meantime, read GovDelivery’s Reach the Public blog and follow Scott on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “CityCamp Minnesota: using Community 2.0 to build and leverage trust

  1. Griff –

    It’s a fascinating trio of questions. However, it seemed to come from a top-down perspective, at least to me.

    The 2.0 media, with participatory information sharing and potential for increased participation in decision-making, offers great potential. As you know, I’ve suggested that we try to “wiki” a city general fund budget and crowd-source public spaces in our community…and seen little enthusiasm from our leaders, at least those in power in 2010.

    My 8 years of experience in Northfield makes me think that the “interested public” has the 2.0 skills to make it happen…it’s the government that generally appears to lack these skills. Even worse, sometimes it seems that government views the public’s 2.0 skills as a threat to their power and perks.

    I think greater progress will be achieved with a change of leadership at the top, both elected and hired. We need people who look beyond the opinions of the highly-paid professionals and view citizens, with and without 2.0 skills, as low-cost but valuable resources.

    Yeah, trust could provide some powerful leverage…

  2. Ross, I think it’s most common that those elected, appointed and employed in government don’t know how to handle citizen engagement in a way that’s not overly time-consuming and frustrating for them.

    It does take leaders who want to engage with the public but there’s considerable knowledge and skills needed to make it work cost-effectively. And in the case of city budgets, it’s tough to get many citizens interested since it’s such a complex issue.

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