Task Force on Community Engagement

This newly formed task force holds their first meeting on Thursday at 6:00. Their goals include identifying best practices for community engagement.

Task Force page
7/30 Agenda
COA Community Engagement Current Practices
Proposed General Guidelines for TFCE
TFCE Member Profile Book

My thinking is that their best practices may be useful in the Neighborhood Metrics discussion. In addition, I would like to participate in citizen communication in order to make suggestions that may lead to increased participation among members of underrepresented groups throughout Austin. FAN believes:

All residents in Austin live in neighborhoods but don’t necessarily have advocacy organizations that represent them or their views

My primary concern relates to the underrepresented groups. I hope the engagement tool(s) we use are successful in gathering a large quantity of responses, but more importantly, I hope they’re successful in gathering proportional responses among the demographic groups that exist within the 10 districts. After reading TFCE’s backup materials, I noticed the COA Community Engagement Current Practices document includes results from the Citywide Survey on Communications, Trends. Unfortunately, these results did not include any details on the survey respondents. I believe COA and the CMs need to make an effort to ensure we’re reaching out to all Austinites.

I started brainstorming a list of groups I would like them to track; I would appreciate any input that you can offer! Also, I would be willing to draft a FAN resolution if members appear to support these efforts.

  • Age
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Household income
  • Housing status (renters vs. owners)
  • Household characteristics (children vs. none)
  • Geographic location

I pulled the groups from documentation that exists here: COA Demographics

Note: I could not find any data on languages spoken so I left it off of my list.

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I think this is a great idea. One encouraging thing that I saw in the backup material that you linked to was “text message-based polling and live chat capability.” This would be a really great step along the same lines of online voting.

Alysha pointed out the below website a while back that might be helpful too. There’s really no good standard way for the city or developers to reach out to people to get input on new development, but this website is a forum that allows the developer to list the exact specifications of the project to get feedback and answer questions. It’d be great if the city had something like this or even just used this website. This could foster more productive conversations and allow more people to get involved in the process. Something like this could take the place of what contact teams are supposed to do now, since contact teams don’t allow for input from anyone in the neighborhood other than a few select people.


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I am a member of the EROC contact team and I just received notice that “The opinion of a majority of the Contact Team members is that the ERC Regulating Plan needs some tweaking in order to protect neighborhoods in the EROC area.” Funny that as a member of the contact team this is my first notice of such an action. Funny that no notice was given of a meeting to contact team members, no meeting of all the members held, and a vote was taken. Never have heard of an annual meeting to vote on membership or officer elections. I was at the last meeting almost a year ago and only 4 members were present, not a quorum. They can’t even get the team to show up. I asked when I joined for a membership list. Never got it. Believe the number is over 20. I fault the city for creating these monsters then letting them walk amongst us without supervision. I am glad to see Council Member Renteria taking a hard look at this rouge behavior. I have emailed him with my concerns. If you have any be sure to contact him ahead of the 6th.

Would anyone like to participate in a working group for this? I asked D7 CM Pool what efforts she planned to make to reach more of her constituents and her answer was to follow this task force’s recommendations. So, at least for D7, the efforts of this task force are important.

In addition to asking the task force to recommend gathering demographic data for each engagement tool, I would like to create a list of tools that may be overlooked or underutilized. For example, why aren’t CMs holding virtual meetings to interact with their constituents? A Webex/ GoToMeeting account is around $100/ month and can reach a wide audience.

Also mentioned here.

@gerald, you might be interested in this topic