Bland Cookie Recommendations for Your Open House
Yes, most of the time you want input from your public and of course, the other 99% of time it’s mandated from above.
Looking for an innovative way to reach your public:
Host an Open House :)
• Buy some bland, grocery store cookies
• Print up some posterboards covered in indecipherable maps and acronyms
• Prepare to pose for a photo of you pointing to the posterboard
Uh. Maybe not. Let’s explore some common issues and how to address them.
1. Why is that Pothole still in front of my house?
You and I both know there are truly more important issues to tackle (see below), but this is a common concern/point of contention among most communities. Your website or a City app will enable your community’s voice to be heard.
Give them an opportunity to at least voice their woes, and then direct them to a tiered chart of how your utilities department addresses each type of road construction issue. Creating a form on your website or through an app will give them a 100 characters to lodge a complaint, and your staff an easy source to succinctly answer the complainant.
2. I pay taxes, where the ?#%!!! do they go?
Simple Answer. Create a Dashboard.
You’re held accountable by Council and your citizens. It’s also necessary to be responsible in how this boring, numeric jumble is delivered to your audience. Online dashboards break down revenue and expenditures at the highest level through infographics, then dive deep into the details through expanded views or clickable links.
3. Let’s get feedback on this brand spanking new Comprehensive Plan.
Ok. We know you have to host an open house for this doozy, but this is a good opportunity to utilize your online tools.
Start with a simple 5-10 question survey to identify your community’s needs-- show them they’re part of the beginning stages of the process. It’s respectful and potentially avoids future conflict knowing their input influenced the process and the outcome. Distribute the survey link via your website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
4. I don’t want affordable housing in MY neighborhood.
Time to go old school. We’re talking postcards, open houses.
Most importantly, it’s about the messaging. There are common misperceptions about the occupants of affordable housing-- EDUCATION will be your biggest tool. Putting a face to the occupants helps your community truly understand that people (single parents, veterans, and disabled) will be living in these housing projects.
Of course, there are literally dozens of other tools you can access to engage the community. Your best bet is to focus on the ones that appeal to your key audiences and match the topic you’re discussing.