Thursday, September 25, 2008

Democracy & Civic Engagement e-State Action Team

The Democracy & Civic Engagement Action Team had a fine gathering of folks in South Burlington on 9/12, with remote participants in Middlebury and Montpelier. The focus of this group is to think about increasing participatory democracy in Vermont, namely to explore and promote public officials engaging citizens via technology. Check out the online meeting notes.

Here were the ideas for homework prior to the next meeting:

1. Think about priorities and values in these four areas: Access, Content, Culture, Privacy.

2. What are some ways we can measure critical mass and grassroots demand for civics and community development?

3. Look at Front Porch Forum as a model to know more about the ins and outs and what works and what doesn’t. Ask Michael Wood-Lewis how it’s going. What are people happy with? What would it take to be replicated around the state? Ask him about the four areas mentioned above. Talk to people in the coverage area who have and haven’t joined it, and ask them why and why not.

4. What capacities exist now that we could bring together to provide outreach to deal with the issue of education/fear of being technologically un-savvy or incapable?

5. Review the action ideas from the symposium.

For all of the above, talking to people outside the group and reporting back is encouraged.

Interested? More info is available here.


Michael Wood-Lewis said...

Hi Karyn and everyone. Glad to hear of your progress. Regarding your questions about Front Porch Forum, it's going very well. In fact, 11,000 Chittenden Co. households subscribe now, including one-third or more of towns like Burlington, Westford, Huntington, etc.

An amazing 93% of respondents to a survey reported that subscribing to Front Porch Forum increases their civic engagement, while two-thirds had participated in local events because of FPF.

We are eager to expand this award-winning service to other parts of Vermont and are laying the groundwork to do just that. We welcome any entities with serious interest to join our waiting list and start a conversation with us.

One more resource... I write frequently about lessons learned in running FPF on our blog... comments welcome.

Karyn Vogel said...

Thank you, Michael. Perhaps other members of our team might want to ask you some more specific follow-up questions. In the meantime, I would point people to this blog post of yours, which addresses the question of information versus communication on Front Porch Forum.