City creates web forum for feedback

 

 Is there something about the city of Brookings that you would like to change? There’s now a new way to do that. 

Last week, the city unveiled Engage Brookings, a website platform that allows community members to provide input on what they would like to do to improve the city. 

The website, which can be found at mindmixer.cityofbrookings.org, includes posts from other community members about what they would like to see and those topics can cross many realms. As of Oct. 22, there was, among others, a post about how the city owns the utilities and liquor store in town, recycling in at city parks and how the city should have a dog park. There are also poll items and a place for those participating to contact city leaders, who will read the site and provide responses to the conversations. 

Users can login through their Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn accounts or can create their own profiles using an email account. 

Brookings is the first city in the state to have a platform of this kind for community feedback, something that has Mayor Tim Reed quite excited about its potential. 

“The reason why we embarked on this was to reach out and hear from some of the people we don’t normally hear from in the city. Everybody is really busy and this is a tool that is 24/7 and people can have access to whenever they want,” Reed said. 

Noting that the students in the city represent about half of the total population in the city, 

 

 “We also want a way of connecting with younger generation and that’s why I’m excited about it for the university. We want to hear what they think the community should look like. We’re not going to keep all of the students here. But, boy, if we could design our community so we can keep a few, we’re going to be in a lot better shape. The students are here for four years, so we want them to come off campus and experience what we have around town. That’s one of our major aspects because we know that they’ll like this tool.”

Given that few students make it to the city council meetings held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month at 6 p.m., Reed said he knew the city would need to come up with a better method for community input. 

“We knew we had to go to a tool that is more like social media,” he said. “All of their input is important but you’re not very likely to get a college student to walk up to public official and tell them what you don’t like.”

The process took about a year and came out of the city council’s strategic planning process, before the city decided on a platform. The city is also building a reward system for those who participate, giving away lunch with the mayor or free stuff at Dakota Nature Park. 

“I’ve already found it to be a very good platform,” said Caleb Finck, who serves on the Students’ Association as the state and local government chairperson. “If we can increase the participation from students, that’s only going to make our city better.”

With many at SDSU already inclined to participate on social platforms, Engage Brookings should find positive role with students. 

“I think it will work well,” Finck said. “Students want to be involved and this will be a good opportunity for everyone in the city to share their ideas and work from there.”