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Recap: 4 Ways to Engage and Partner with Others When the Unexpected Happens

What are the unexpected surprises your community has faced? Expected or unexpected, local government needs to be prepared at all times. 

In the #ICMA2016 educational session, Surprise! How to Engage and Partner with Others When the Unexpected Happens, panelists Eric DeMoura, Town Administrator of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina and Milton R. Dohoney, Jr., Assistant City Manager of Phoenix, Arizona, discussed how local government professionals are sometimes faced with unforeseen challenges in the form of rapid growth, a public safety crisis, or some other unexpected event that threatens the well-being of the community. Often in such cases, the development of meaningful relationships through purposeful civic engagement is needed to help communities recover, respond, and plan for the future.

Here are several tips from the session to involve more people in the exchange of information and ideas. These tips can strengthen the links between dialogue, decision-making, and actions, and can increase your community's capacity for collaboration. 

  • Tip #1: Coffee with the mayor -  Open to everyone in the community on a month'y basis, this initiative allows direct communication between the mayor and community.
  • Tip #2: Mobile office hours - A monthly event held in other town facilities, businesses, etc. in the form of a roundtable or one-on-one format. 
  • Tip #3: Community roundtable meetings - Typically evening meetings that are open to neighborhood associations, civic groups and non-profits. The meeting also includes elected officials and senior staff members.
  • Tip #4: Monthly e-Brief from the Manager - Sent by direct email, social media, NotifyMe, and the main town website. It gives the community a recap of previous month news and events plus a forecast of the upcoming month.

Results from these community outreach ideas include:

  • Participants become ambassadors for the community
  • Participants know where to find accurate information
  • Council and senior staff know community priorities
  • Community relationship changes from one of "customer service" to one of "collaborative partnerships"

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