Fostering Communications and Community
By Gregory T. Federspiel
There is a very wide range of plans and decisions that are constantly being made as we go about managing the affairs of municipal government. And these decisions impact the type of community we have here in our special corner of the world. Being part of a small community gives us the added advantage of having easy access to the planning and decision making that goes on. Literally hundreds of you volunteer to serve on many different committees and boards that help advance planning efforts and decision making. Board and committee meetings are always open to the general public. Ultimately, most of the larger decisions are made by voters at our open town meetings.
In today’s fast passed world with so many avenues to obtain information (some more reliable than others!) it is challenging to know what means of communicating with all of you is best. Thus a multi-pronged approach is taken using a number of different venues.
The Cricket is certainly the “tried and true” venue. But, as much as Erica Brown would like to think that everyone faithfully reads their weekly edition, this is not the case! We also utilize the Town web-site and Facebook pages. Residents can sign up for alerts to particular new postings on the Town’s web page. We are working hard to make sure all agendas and meeting minutes are available on the web site.
Public meetings are another traditional venue to share information and garner public feedback. These, too, have witnessed declining attendance though certain projects prove the exception to this general trend. More targeted meetings where particular stakeholders are made aware of a possible project or other change and invited to attend are being utilized.
Many folks take time to correspond either in person or via email with board/committee members and/or town staff about a given topic. One on one connections are often best! (As one who can receive up to 100 emails a day please understand that I may not be able to respond to you right away!) Know that you are always welcome to schedule an appointment to sit down to share your thoughts. Of course, you can always stop by on the chance that the person you want to speak to is free. I will be scheduling weekly “open hours” both during the day and early evening to provide times when you can stop by without an appointment to connect with me.
Effective local governance is more than just balanced budgets and meeting deadlines. We are in the community building business, providing important elements for a successful community. Successful community building is a communal effort. And strong communications and broad engagement is an essential ingredient to this effort. Our communications and engagement strategies will continue to expand. Please let us know your ideas for new ways to communicate and build community with you.