A week ago, the Northfield City Council met for a retreat (not AIG style, I’m told) and, among other things, decided to look closely at all areas of public engagement. (See last week’s Nfld News article, New council meets to begin teamwork, setting goals.)
Councilors Erica Zweifel, Jim Pokorney, and Kris Vohs are on the subcommittee to look at public engagement. They are expected report back to the Council in early Feb. with some recommendations.
I met with Erica earlier this week at the Goodbye Blue Monday to better understand the scope of their inquiry and talk a little bit about how online tools might be part of the solution.
Evidently, everything is on the table, including:
- Providing information to the public. This would include the City’s web site, monthly print newsletter, and the broadcast/streaming of video of official public meetings. (See Bonnie Obremski’s RepJ story, City could stream video by 2010, as well as her series of RepJ stories on NTV.)
- Ward meetings
- Town meetings
- Boards and commissions (structure, effectiveness, meetings)
- Public input before, during, and after Council and other public meetings. This would include open mic.
- Online input and discussions
For the past two weeks, we’ve been discussing (117 comments thus far) the pros and cons of Northfield’s online eco-system for civic engagement. The discussion has mostly focused on Locally Grown, RepJ, and Northfield’s civic blogosphere within the context of professional journalism and citizen journalism – and with some forays into civic capacity-building.
Discussion on this blog post, however, needs to be both broader (not just online engagement) and more practical (what specifically needs to be changed or tried). If the discussion is substantive IMHO, I’ll produce a PDF transcript and ask that it be given to each councilor before their Feb. meeting.
Councilor Zweifel has agreed to follow this discussion and chime in as she sees fit.