One topic of discussion was the Citizen Advisory Councils within Raleigh and how they can use technology to organize and communicate. Several CAC’s use technology for email announcements and discussion groups, blogs, document sharing sites, meeting planning services. Currently, however, CAC usage of online tools for collaboration is heavily dependent on whether the CAC leader is comfortable with technology and has the passion to research tools and implement them.
There was a desire amongst the group to share knowledge from these CAC leaders who are pioneering the use of technology to teach others throughout the community how to use technology to organize. The Five Points Community Supported Agriculture group that created a social media marketing plan for their community at CityCamp Raleigh was seen as a model. Several key issues were discussed:
- How do you let each community choose the tools that work for them and still have some consistency?
- How do you choose a common platform without making it rigid, inflexible and thus seldom used?
- What part does and should the City play in selecting or supporting these technology tools?
- How do we make sure those who don’t have access to the Internet or are not savvy internet users remain engaged if a CAC goes “online”?
The conversation also drifted to the various forms of newsletters, announcements, and email lists various departments across the city distribute. That information is important to be able to distribute to the CAC’s, but many times the format is inflexible (PDF’s) and there is not one central place to sign up for all of those notifications.
Our next steps were to create a way for technology-savvy CAC leaders to “curate” a set of tools and best practices for those tools that could further the mission of each CAC – essentially to create a recommended toolbox for each CAC to communicate online. Then those curators could lead some training sessions with the other CAC’s to teach them how and when to use each tool in the toolbox.
Also, we wanted to engage the City of Raleigh Community Services Department as they play a key part in coordinating the activities of the various CAC’s to see how they could play a part in making that whole set of activities more efficient.