Arlington County Civic Engagement Forum

In this forum, you can submit ideas, vote on existing ideas, or add comments for how you would like to see Arlington County Government engage the public. We would like you to share your ideas on what civic engagement and open government mean to you.

This forum is brought to you by a group of County employees who are working on a continuing education project whose goal is to recommend opportunities for civic engagement to County management in June 2011. This online conversation is part of our data collection process and will help us in forming our recommendation for June. This blog will close on May 31, 2011 at 5pm EST.

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How can Arlington County make it easier for you to participate in government?

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  1. Internal Volunteer Program

    When working as an Americorps volunteer, engagment was seen as a multi-step process. We would take youth through week long 'civic engagement' camps to have them identify problems in their community and then design a project that addressed a particular issue (be it a letter writing campaign, volunteer project, etc).

    Volunteering became a huge aspect of each project because it brought residents and county employees together, but also made complex issues, such as homelessness, real for the children in the camps. My recommendation is to create an internal volunteer program for employees similar to corporate volunteer programs. Maybe give employees…

    3 votes
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    • Improve the county's website

      The website could be more helpful in several respects: (1) The current search engine is not sophisticated and brings up too many responses to elementary requests. It is especially poor at directing inquiries to the many ancillary websites that keep being created for various county programs (walking, transit, biking, planning and so on). (2) Departmental descriptions are inadequate. One should be able to find a basic organizational chart, with names and contact information, for every department. DES is especially opaque. (3) Information on county-sponsored meetings, including commissions' meetings, should be available in one place. (Yes I know how challenging this…

      4 votes
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      • Community partnerships

        Encourage community centers to partner with local citizen advocacy groups on current county programs or one specific to that neighborhood.

        4 votes
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          1 comment  ·  Admin →
        • You are researching the wrong topic.

          The Arlington Way is alive & well. Anyone who wishes to participate can fron the neighborhood level to the broader county level. The more important question not being addressed is what does the government need to do to be more responsive to citizens? No one answers the phone numbers listed on the county website. Try it and you'll see what I mean. You leave messages and no one answers unless you contact the County Board office and they insist the employees call back. The County wants every one to use computers to communicate, but messages sit in County inboxes with…

          4 votes
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          • Create a Civic Engagement tab and page.

            What are the key ways in which citizen participation would be welcomed and beneficial?
            Seems to me, the answer includes: (1) voting when there are elections, (2) joining county citizens advisory groups (3) offering input to government at all levels when input is needed on particular issues, and (4) volunteering in county offices. One key way to encourage this participation is organizing the information. A tab and page that makes clear civic participation is a priority, and how the county would like citizens to engage the county at all levels would be great. Pieces of this info are available in…

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            • Live blog and/or videocast county meetings

              Honestly, Arlington county does a pretty good job in my opinion in engaging its citizens. But, if you're looking to do more, consider live blogging and/or videocasting meetings. Any meeting that allows citizens time to comment should also accept input from citizens via twitter or other modern forms of electronic communication.

              5 votes
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                1 comment  ·  Admin →
              • Offer child-care at major community meetings.

                Lack of child care is a large obstacle for the engagement of new parents, skewing the community feedback at meetings toward young single professionals and older retirees. While doing so at all meeting would likely be cost prohibitive, offering child care at major community meetings would go a long way toward encouraging a more representative spectrum of public feedback.

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                • 1 vote
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