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. Which is why we build certified translation to suit your needs – with specialist account managers in your area and more than 5,000 industry-specific translators, coupled with experienced project managers and customer service representatives.
SEO Melbourne 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.
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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.
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.
Nov. 2 update:
With my civic and business hat on, I’m hosting a free webinar on social media use by local government on Monday, Nov. 1, at 8 PM CDT. It will feature:
- A tour of several local government websites (primarily cities in the US) to see some best practices of how social media tools (blogs, web forums, email lists, webinars, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.) are being used to enable more transparency and engagement.
- A discussion about the hurdles that local government officials face when implementing the use of social media.
The panelists (all bloggers), all have some Northfield connections:
- Left: Betsey Buckheit, Councilor, City of Northfield, MN
Prior to her election in 2008, Betsey served on Northfield’s Charter Commission, Planning Commission, Non-Motorized Transportation Task Force, and Library Board. She’s been a Humphrey Institute Public Policy Fellow and part of the Blandin Community Leadership Program. See her Council news, local issues, and public policy blog here.
- Center: Steven Clift, founder and Executive Director, E-Democracy.org
Steve is also a speaker and consultant on e-democracy and was the guy who brought the UK e-gov delegation to Northfield in 2004 (hosted at the Contented Cow) and a field trip to Northfield for the International Symposium on Local E-Democracy in 2005 (hosted at the Cow and the Archer House). See his Democracies Online (DoWire) blog here.
- Right: Scott Neal, City Manager, City of Eden Prairie, MN
Scott was Northfield’s City Administrator from 1996-2002. His last day at Eden Prairie is today. He begins his new job as City Manager for Edina, MN on Nov. 8. See his Eden Prairie City Manager blog here.
Some photos of Betsey, Steve and Scott in Northfield from 2004-05 with their blogger hats on:
Please register for the free webinar on social media use by local government for Monday, Nov. 1, at 8 PM CDT.
If you’re unable to attend, the webinar will be recorded and archived on the web.
Got questions or comments? Attach a comment here or contact me.
Nov. 2 update:
A month ago, Eden Prairie MN City Manager Scott Neal announced on his blog that he’d accepted a new job as City Manager for the City of Edina, MN. See this recent feature in the Star Tribune newspaper profiling his career: Edina’s new city manager has lifelong interest in governance.
Scott and I had breakfast last week at Turtle Bread in south Minneapolis near his home.
I got to know Scott when he became Northfield’s city administrator in 1996. Only 100 days on the job, he became our first guest in an online web forum that I moderated titled State of the City (transcript). When he departed Northfield for the city manager job Eden Prairie in late 2002, he became my second leadership blogging client (see this blog post of mine dated March 31, 2003).
(Left photo): When a delegation from the UK government visited Northfield during the summer of 2004 to learn about the civic leadership blogging in Northfield and Eden Prairie, it turned into a trip to the UK in Feb. 2005 for both us to teach local leaders there about leadership blogging (see the album of 240 photos).
(Center and right photos): Scott gave ceremonial keys to the city to the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames when we visited the city, and Kingston Councilor Mary Reid (recently retired) did likewise when she and others from the UK visited MN for the International Symposium on Local E-Democracy and spent a day in Northfield (see my blog post with photos here) to discuss leadership blogging at the local government level. (See Mary Reid’s blog post on our visit here.)
Scott’s blogging taught me more about the power of a leadership blog than I taught him. I remember the most startling revelation for me was the extent to which he used his blog to communicate indirectly to the employees of the City of Eden Prairie. ‘Indirectly’ because the audience for his blog was primarily local citizens but his staff followed his blog closely.
Affirming people is one of the key ways to use a leadership blog and Scott consistently did this in his 7+ years of blogging as Eden Prairie City Manager. See this recent blog post where he singles out three employees for detailed recognition.
Will Scott be blogging in his new job? Stay tuned.
I’m subscribed to the blogs of 18+ leaders (and adding more as I discover them).
Today, I tweeted five of their recent posts, ones that I think are instructive for those who are interested in the art of leadership blogging.
These weren’t retweets of their blog headlines. I tried to cram in a hint about why I judged each post to be instructive.
I’m experimenting with how to best format these tweets. By the time I did the 4th one, it occurred to me to include:
- The #Leadership hashtag at the beginning with the phrase ‘blog post’
- Their name/Twitter username and their title/position/organization
- The topic
- My take on why it’s a good example of leadership blogging
- A short URL that links to the blog post
Here are my tweets of today’s five leadership blog posts worth noting:
I’m not sure yet how often I’ll A) do this kind of tweeting; B) continue to blog the tweets.
Last night, the City of Eden Prairie held a retirement party for Police Chief Dan Carlson. Among the presenters/roasters were his fellow bloggers. (Click photos to enlarge.)
Left: City Manager Scott Neal (Dan and family in the background).
Center: New Police Chief Rob Reynolds (officially Deputy Chief for 3 more weeks)
Right: Fire Chief George Esbenson with a specially made radio shoe.
I’ve been working with Dan on the weblog/website for his new venture, Public Safety Ministries: Promoting Spiritual Fitness in the Public Safety Professions:
Just like with physical fitness, the pursuit of spiritual fitness requires regular participation in a personalized exercise program.
The objective of this site is to create a virtual spiritual fitness center or a gym for the soul. We’re hoping that you visit the gym regularly and can find some exercises that fit your personal spiritual fitness needs.