Tina Trenkner is the Deputy Editor for GOVERNING.com. She edits the Technology and Health newsletters.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Would constituents be more likely to attend meetings on upcoming city projects if they knew that pumpkin painting, concerts or pancake breakfasts would be offered? Boulder, Colo., city officials think so. They know that having lots of meetings focusing on a single topic could cause information overload, and that it's difficult to attend meetings if childcare is a concern. As a solution, officials set up a five-session series of community meetings, called Boulder Matters, in a format more reminiscent of a fall carnival. Each meeting, held at a school or community center in different areas of Boulder, will have an activity for kids while parents can visit information stations, speak to city officials and watch presentations on topics of interest. While providing a fun activity like pumpkin painting at a gathering on serious issues may be a bit "kitschy," Regional Sustainability Coordinator Jonathan Koehn says that the format allows parents to participate more in city matters. This fun format may also be cost effective as the schools and community centers donated the space for the meetings, helping the city save on rental costs. The Boulder Daily Camera reports that the city may save almost $2,000 by running these forums as opposed to traditional meetings.