News, Public Participation

Discussion with Citizen Engagement Lab

As they city of SF begins to explore public participation, we met up with some local pros: Ian Inaba and Daniel Souweine of Citizen Engagement Lab. They’ve done some amazing work that you should check out. Here are some nuggets they shared with us:

Communities should be intentional

Your community should fill a space that hasn’t been met yet. Do we need yet another Ning site on gov 2.0? No, but perhaps we do for the latino community. Go down the long tail.

How does your community want to be engaged?

Govt should focus on the existing communities and their energy.  What is it that citizens are passionate about in your area? Look at what issues/causes/services people are engaged in today.

Community Requires a Dialogue.

Always engage in a meaningful conversation with members.  Don’t solicit ideas and then drop off the conversation. People want to be engaged. That doesn’t always mean a large effort on your part. Technology can help by sending thank you emails after citizens submit content.

Focus on the Issue Not the Solution

For the technically inclined we often jump right to technology and then search for challenges to solve. By spending time looking at the issue first you often create unique and creative solutions that may not even involve technology.

Choose the Right Technology

  • Must have embedded value/ functionality that you need (voting, rating, sharing, commenting, etc)
  • It should have features that make your content viral
  • Technology should be intuitive

Before you begin Outreach

  • Define values
  • Define challenge/scope
  • Define key constituencies

Thanks to Ian and Dan for taking the time to talk with us.

-Jay Nath


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