A good place to start any civic engagement outreach is to review the new City of Stillwater Participation Spectrum. It identifies the increasing level of public participation, and the organization’s commitment to follow through on these promises.
INFORM: This is one-way communication from the City to the public. The goal is simply to make sure information reaches the public. Often with news, social media, mass media, etc.
CONSULT: This is two-way communication, and the goal is to gain a broad-range of feedback. This can take the form of focus groups, office hours, polls and surveys, public meeting or public hearings.
INVOLVE: Also two-communication (or it may expand into a dialogue or conversation) to gain feedback, but a bit more intense and often focused on one topic or issue that may take longer to resolve.
COLLABORATE: These are all of the councils, boards, committees, task forces (made up of citizens) who are looking identify problems and offer solutions.
EMPOWER: This involve those situations when things go to a vote of the people.
In the City’s Strategic Plan, civic engagement is Priority #6 with the following three Objectives:
#1) Create an environment where people can find (or share) the right information at the right time.
#2) Continue to provide the public with balanced and objective news and information to assist them in understanding problems, issues, opportunities and/or solutions.
#3) Connect the public with opportunities to be involved in feedback process at the appropriate level.
All city employees are expected to promote open government and to strengthen civic engagement. We’ve even adopted the use of Plain Language.
We use Plain Language techniques on the city’s website and are rewriting public documents so that they are easier to read and understand.