There are many ways to connect virtually to City government (right now). And the City of Asheville is working on a sustainable model of even more remote access to City government.
Connecting people to government and removing barriers to government has long been a core value of the City of Asheville’s Communication and Public Engagement Department (CAPE).
That’s why, even before the COVID pandemic happened, CAPE had just contracted with the Public Input platform as a way to better engage Asheville residents, capture their feedback, share updates with our community and keep folks informed and involved in decision making as well as Council-led initiatives that affect our communities.
Then the pandemic happened, bringing massive shutdowns with it.
Time to innovate and harness the power of the Internet age.
But it didn’t happen just magically or on our own. It happened through hard work in partnership with Public Input and a new virtual meeting platform they were in the process of just building and rolling out themselves.
While we had hoped to begin by streaming committee meetings, then work our way up to the City Council meetings, the paradigm flipped on us from the get go as most committee meetings were put on hold but the workings of government had to go on. So the CAPE team rolled up their sleeves and began to livestream City Council and Council committee meetings through the Public Input platform and on the City’s YouTube channel. We were also able to take public comment live during meetings too.
Yes, there were glitches. Many more than we would have liked, especially in the beginning. As we said to each other, we were building an airplane while we were flying it. And as time went on we had some equipment failures as some of our equipment is just plain worn out. And though we were excited about this innovation, it also took hours of overtime to deliver this service to our residents at our current staffing level.
Now that things are normalizing and meetings are returning to in-person format, the City of Asheville and the Communication and Public Engagement Department want you to know we are looking for funding to continue that level of service. We need equipment and staffing and we have applied for grant money to make it happen.
We hear you, Asheville. We share your vision of a sustainable model of remote access to City government.
For now we’re still live streaming City Council and Council committee meetings, but no longer taking remote comment during meetings. You can still email comments in advance or leave voicemail comments in advance. Other committee meetings are live, in person but not streamed at this time. Pre-public comments for these meetings can still be emailed or submitted through voicemail in advance or made in person at the meeting.
Other ways to stay connected to City government
- Virtual Engagement Hub: We’re reaching out to our community on many topics on the City’s Virtual Engagement Hub. Log on, scroll through and participate! Here’s the link. This is where our City Council and Council committee meetings are linked as well.
- Neighborhood Services: Sign up for the Neighborhood Services newsletter at this link.
- Follow us on social media! Especially the City of Asheville Facebook account and Twitter feed. And don’t forget the Parks & Recreation Facebook account.
- Read all about it: All of our press releases and blog posts are linked on the front of the City of Asheville website and on the City’s news website, Asheville City Source.
- Staff directory: Find a staff directory to the Communication and Public Engagement Department at this link.
Thank you for participating in your local government. We are fortunate to have such an engaged, caring community!