Tales of Tools and Tactics: Online platforms to improve your city

Tools and Tactics are replicable templates Connectors can use to multiply and amplify action and collaboration in their communities. We find they also make for great stories about people all over the world who are promoting good in interesting ways.

Whether you’re a municipal employee or an ordinary citizen, delivering feedback to your local government—and getting it from your fellow locals—can be a challenge, but online platforms are proving to be one good solution.

Wichita, Kansas’ local government has seen great success with Activate Wichita, an “online conversation about the future of the Greater Wichita metropolitan area.” The city created the site last year to help it reach and ask a larger and more diverse representation of the population for feedback about municipal priorities and services. By all accounts, it’s already become a rich and useful source of questions and comments from the community.

Below, Cynthia Berner Harris, Director of Libraries in Wichita and a key organizer of Activate Wichita, talks about her experience with the website as a librarian and administrator:

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Wichita encourages all its residents to use Activate Wichita.
(image courtesy Wichita Public Library)

Q: Can you tell us about a particularly memorable moment in your planning or using the site?

A: An obvious moment was when we were notified we’d won a national award, the 2014 LibraryAware Community Award. A large part of that was the Activate Wichita project, as a component of the way we just get out and partner with the community, listen to the community, because we are ourselves a part of the community, too.

It didn’t occur to us that this work was extraordinary or revolutionary, and certainly we’re not the only library involved in engagement. But perhaps we’re a little farther along than other libraries. We don’t often consider ourselves in that position. It’s catching notice.

To learn more, read the Tool and Tactic here. Interested in becoming a Connector? Get started here!

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