What can Northfield learn at the League of MN Cities annual conference?

Griff Wigley, Ted Davis IMAG0115 IMAG0118League of MN Cities
I’m here in flood-ravaged Duluth this week for the League of Minnesota Cities annual conference.

I’m teaming up with Ted Davis, Davis Communications, and Scott Neal, Edina City Manager, to do a pre-conference workshop today on Networking and Communicating with New Media for Local Government Leaders.  On Friday, I’m moderating a discussion session on Government 2.0: New Strategies for Engaging the Public.

In between, I plan to attend as many sessions as I can and report back on some of them that I think might be of interest to Northfielders.

10:30 am update:  AARRGGHH. All pre-conference workshops cancelled today. Pretty much all roads in and out of Duluth are blocked, including I35. Eerie to see a completely empty I35 in the middle of the morning.

Ted Davis, CANCELLED! Griff Wigley, CANCELLED! I35 shutdown in Duluth, 6/20/2012 I35 shutdown in Duluth, 6/20/2012

10 comments to  (Including 4 Discussion Threads) What can Northfield learn at the League of MN Cities annual conference?

  • 1
    Griff Wigley says:

    AARRGGHH. All pre-conference workshops cancelled today. Pretty much all roads in and out of Duluth are blocked, including I35.

    So what can we learn? Maybe observing the pros and cons of how the City of Duluth is using social media in a weather emergency:

    Updates on the City of Duluth website

    Updates on City of Duluth Twitter feed

    Updates on City of Duluth Facebook page

    Updates on City of Duluth Police Dept Facebook page

    Duluth Mayor Don Ness Facebook page

  • 2
    Griff Wigley says:

    I really like the Duluth News Tribune’s live weather blog (actually live chat via CoverItLive), because it allows everyone to contribute updates, not just the reporters. Could this be effectively done by City Hall, eg, the emergency info manager/staff?

    Someone else has set up a Duluth -- Superior Flood 2012 Facebook page.

  • 3
    Tim Madigan says:

    This is what happens when you send Griff to a conference to educate cities on the benefits of social media! The City of Duluth is now in ruins and the League conference was delayed. Is social media the cause of the recent radical weather patterns? They both appeared on the scene at the same time. I plan on attending his work session on Friday to ask this type of insightful question.

    • 3.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      Sorry, Tim, no Northfield public officials will be allowed to attend my session on Friday. I can’t risk having you learn the social media tricks LoGro uses to pound on City Hall.

  • 4
    Jane McWilliams says:

    Thanks, Griff. I’ve been wondering what the fate of the conference would be given the disastrous situation up there in Duluth. The resources you’ve provided are great.

    I hear the bike trail you’ve blogged about was hit, too, so that should keep you on the social media track instead of in the woods.

    • 4.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      Jane, all the standard mountain biking trails were closed but I connected with some guys who knew where there were rocky areas to ride that were impervious to rain so I did end up having my share of fun on Friday and Saturday.

  • 5
    Tim Madigan says:

    In spite of my earlier irreverent comments, I found Griff’s session at the League conference to be quite valuable. His case studies were relevant and the round table discussion provided advice on practical social media do’s and don’ts. My take aways from the session include:

    * Now that the City of Northfield will be updating its website platform later this year, an important goal will be to integrate social media into our communication process, which a number of councilors have been urging for some time.

    * Social media is a helpful one way communication method for distributing information to a large number of people in a short period of time e.g. emergencies, project updates. Yet the most fascinating potential for social media is in the area of community decision making. Griff had a case study that illustrated how a wide range of people can participate in an important municipal decision, not just the “involved people.”

    * Social media is here to stay, and cities need to explore the best ways to use it effectively within the boundaries set by good taste, and State and Federal law (e.g. privacy and content the city must take responsibility for).

    * There is at times a generational divide in how people want cities to communicate to them. For example, in the 2011 community survey most people stated their two main sources of municipal information was the City newsletter, the Commons, and the Northfield News.

    * Griff touched on a theme, which as a former civics teacher sparked my interest, and that was the balance between representative government where elected officials make the final decisions and having input/participation from the people they represent in the stages of decision making. This has always been a debatable theme and one that may be enhanced by the new tools of social media.

    My final thought is that it may be worthwhile to experiment with an upcoming local issue using some of the new social media techniques.

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