I want cities to connect the dots between open government, web literacy, and citizen engagement. And I want to help the city I live in do that. For many years that city was Keene, NH, and while I can point to a few successes I can’t say that Keene is now a great model of the kinds of web-mediated engagement I envision.
Now that I live in Santa Rosa, I’ll try to help my new city connect those dots. The timing is fortuitous. In the wake of the 2013 Andy Lopez shooting Santa Rosa’s then-mayor Scott Bartley appointed an Open Government Task Force. The charter was:
…to develop a report that will inform the community about the current status of open and transparent government practice in the City of Santa Rosa; to review the exceptions, limitations and restrictions imposed by State or Federal law or Constitution; and to present options for improvement or additional best practices that the Mayor and City Council may wish to consider.
The final report, happily, takes a holistic view that encompasses not only government transparency but also citizen engagement. That’s the area in which I think I can help.
In The Church of One Tree: A civic parable I looked at how government and citizens interacted on a couple of issues, and explored some ways in which better web literacy could have improved those interactions.
Today the Press Democrat ran my editorial, Open government is a two-way street, which distills the pitch down to 600 words.
Can Santa Rosa become a city that thinks like the web? It seems genuinely to want that. If so, I’m here to help!