Friday, August 01, 2014

City launches new avenue for input

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 10/7/2013

Ottawa residents now have another forum to provide their ideas and feedback to community decision makers.  

The City of Ottawa on Oct. 1 launched eNgage Ottawa, a new “comprehensive community engagement website, developed by MindMixer, where citizens can engage, communicate and collaborate with community decision makers and other residents on the future of our community,” city officials said in a news release.

Ottawa residents now have another forum to provide their ideas and feedback to community decision makers.  

The City of Ottawa on Oct. 1 launched eNgage Ottawa, a new “comprehensive community engagement website, developed by MindMixer, where citizens can engage, communicate and collaborate with community decision makers and other residents on the future of our community,” city officials said in a news release.

“The City of Ottawa continues to look for new ways to engage our citizens, and this online tool will potentially put us in touch with citizens that might not be able to attend a public meeting or open house,” Richard Nienstedt, city manager, said. “I am really excited to see what great new ideas can be shared with us over the next year or two.”

The site can be found at: http://mindmixer.ottawaks.gov/

The goal, Nienstedt said, is to get the community involved in the planning process. eNgage Ottawa will be used as an online tool to generate new ideas and feedback from citizens through an interactive platform, he said.

Feedback from the website will be used by the city commission, directors of various city departments and other decision makers in the community to lay out plans on a variety of projects, city officials said.

Some of the initial questions include: “If you could change one thing about Ottawa, what would it be?”, “What is your fondest memory in one of our parks?” and “Do you watch meetings online or on cable access? Why or why not?”

Other topics will be added in the future, including healthful living and economic development, city officials said.

“MindMixer is an opportunity for active participation in community issues,” Sara Caylor, Ottawa mayor, said. “This online format is available to our citizens when they have a few extra minutes — whether it is 10 a.m. or 10 p.m. ... I look forward to the feedback from citizens.”

Rewards for participation possibly could include lunches with the mayor or city manager, with additional rewards to be added as the project evolves, the city news release said.

Goals for the next comprehensive plan also will be identified and refined using this site, Wynndee Lee, Ottawa’s planning director, said.  

This site is not intended to replace public meetings, but rather offer a way to get additional input from residents, Nienstedt said.

The site also measures and tracks participation, according to the release.

“Our tools go beyond just technology,” Nick Bowden, chief executive officer of MindMixer, said in the release. “Our mission is to build community contributors. Ideas, voices and perspectives are shared to facilitate deeper and better conversations that yield actionable insights and a stronger community.”

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