In a changing world, it’s crucial communities are resilient enough to overcome the unknowns. Some of the most worrisome predictions include cyberattacks and mass migrations from climate change. More optimistic voices suspect life will be more efficient and clean, and technology will work for us versus against us. Regardless, change is imminent, and government leaders must consistently build relationships with residents to create community resilience and a society that works together.
Transparent two-way communication, follow-through, and adjusting the plan as needed cultivates trust between local government and constituents.
Community surveys enable leaders to execute these trust-building steps. Surveying collects residents’ opinions on quality of life in their communities. With insightful data, officials can make a plan, communicate the reasoning behind that plan, and demonstrate how that plan is working by comparing reports over time.
Building Trust Results in Fast Action
Consistent engagement with the public creates a working relationship that cultivates a layer of trust.
Mike Sable is the Assistant City Manager for Bloomington, Minnesota. The City is dedicated to community engagement and has administered a resident assessment called The National Community Survey (The NCS) since 2012. The survey reveals what people think about pillars of livability including the economy, parks and recreation, health, utilities, and more. It helps leaders prioritize goals that match their constituents’ sentiment.
But the survey is one of the many tools in their communication toolshed. Bloomington also holds listening sessions at different local hubs. They invite residents and City leaders into planning meetings with public officials. That’s followed up with more outreach to community members who have a particular specialty on a topic.
“After the murder of George Floyd, many nearby communities were wrestling with police-community relations,” Sable said. “Having our engagement system in place so that we could quickly gauge [how our community felt] was really important.”
Established engagement allowed Bloomington to listen to and address public outcries effectively.
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