This past August and September my community was tense from consecutive emergencies. There were four demonstrations on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus — and then Hurricane Florence hit, bringing flooding from more than nine inches of rain.
It is a distant memory when we did not have social media tools to relay urgent emergency information to the community. The Town of Chapel Hill marks a 10-year anniversary of @ChapelHillGov Facebook this October. An “early adopter” of local government on social media, we continue to learn new strategies to expand our reach and improve engagement. Continue Reading
Editor’s Note: This comes from the blog of the IBM Center for The Business of Government. Drawing from the book, New Power (by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms), the premise is that “Participation needs to be much more than a website that allows you to point out occasional potholes in the street; it needs to be a constant and compelling experience that keeps people working together on the things that matter.” In their view, “The goal of new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.”
What are the goals of civic engagement?
What different models exist?
What is a real-life example of a pioneer in engagement? The example of four initiatives in New York City show the pioneering spirit.
What could hold back or expand engagement initiatives?
Many of us were following the Facebook hearings this April in which nearly 100 members of Congress questioned Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The hearings came after news broke that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign, accessed information from as many as 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge.
While the outrage focused primarily on consumer privacy, it also elevated interest in Facebook’s impact on civil discourse and domestic institutions around the world. We are learning more about the addictive nature and manipulative strategies of Facebook and other social media. Continue Reading
This post is written by guest blogger Kenneth Brown, City of Charlotte Social Media Manager. To learn more about Kenneth, find his short bio at the end of this post.
Facebook recently announced a series of updates to its platform to improve the quality and trustworthiness of content that filters into our feeds. The company’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, said the updates are a part of the company’s goal to make sure Facebook is a valued asset in our society. The Facebook post reads in part:
People consistently tell us they want to see more local news on Facebook. Local news helps us understand the issues that matter in our communities and affect our lives. Research suggests that reading local news is directly correlated with civic engagement. People who know what’s happening around them are more likely to get involved and help make a difference.Continue Reading
Local government is invisible to many Americans. As long as services are provided efficiently, many of us feel no need to visit our city or county offices. On those infrequent occasions when we need to connect, we may not know where to start. Community engagement with local government may not always seem intuitive, but in most cases officials are happy to provide the information you’re looking for.
A 2014 Gallup poll showed that 72% of respondents said they trusted their local governments (the percentage dropped when respondents were asked about State and Federal governments). Local employees and officials are unusually accountable. I can’t tell you how many times a NC mayor or city councilor has told stories of impromptu “meetings” at the grocery store.
While local governments vary due to location and size, we have more ways than ever to begin a conversation. This post will not address public records law; however, it is designed to help you begin the process of getting help or information from local officials. I will address how to get started, using social media, smartphone apps, call centers and whom to contact.
How to Get Started
If you are simply looking for information, you may never need to visit a local office. Most every town, city, or county in NC has a website that provides a wealth of information. These sites usually include financial documents such as budgets and bid opportunities; job openings; recreational opportunities; news releases; and contact information for town staff and elected officials. Continue Reading