By Lisa Loving, NECN
Has your commitment to a better world shifted your life over the past year? Looking for a way to get involved with your community that goes beyond social media? Here are 10 ways to engage effectively with your city government, and beyond:
- Go to a meeting. We may be self-isolating right now, but that doesn’t mean we have to let big decisions happen behind closed doors! Those with smartphone or computer access can attend key hearings, meetings and work sessions virtually. Show up online to make sure civic leaders know you’re watching. Find the City of Portland’s events here, with links to participate.
- Scrutinize statistical reports before you weigh in on the issues. You don’t have to have a PhD in urban planning to track the details of what goes on in this town! The City Auditor’s Office — also the Multnomah County Auditor, the Metro Auditor, and the Oregon Secretary of State — studies how well bureaus do their job and offers policy suggestions on how they can improve. If there is any issue you feel passionately about, this is a great place to immerse yourself in knowledge. Everything from water treatment to police response times and public art are scrutinized to improve operations. Check the City Auditor’s publication list and find out her team’s planned focus for the coming year online.
- Find tools for advocacy. This might sound wild, but the City of Portland’s Office of Community and Civic Life has a trove of links, charts and contact points designed to show local residents and neighbors how to be heard in City Hall!
→ articles and resources on the basics of community organizing and communicating with elected officials;
→ links to submit Freedom of Information Act requests;
→ information on how to join one of the many boards and commissions that advise the city on operations.
- Make a public comment on an important issue. Many if not most important decisions cranked out by city governments involve a process that collects public opinion! Find links to do that here.
- Watch the City Council meeting live. If you link podcasts, you’ll probably love following the real-life story of our city! On the Council directory page, look for a link to the agenda; follow the meeting along with this document, which lists council items in order of their appearance and has hot links to the documents and handouts for each item. While watching the video, check the agenda item number in the lower right hand corner of the screen. Go here to access the live stream.