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Engage Bellingham: The City Wants Your Feedback!

How would you like the opportunity to connect, communicate, and collaborate with the city’s civic leaders about the future of our community? The City of Bellingham’s newest website, Engage Bellingham, is designed to help you do just that.

Announced on Friday, Engage Bellingham allows local residents to answer questions and generate new ideas for the continued growth of the city. Users will need to create accounts in order to use the service, a process which can be done quickly either by filling out an online form or connecting to the host service through Facebook. Once the account is created, the resident will have access to the City’s current list of questions. Some of the questions allow answers to be selected from a list, while others ask the user to type out an answer in a text box.

The host service, a company called MindMixer, states that it is used by over 900 organizations across the country, including schools, universities, and state and federal government institutions.

Over the next few months Engage Bellingham’s questions will be focusing on the 2016 Comprehensive Plan Update, a revision to the long-term development plan created in 2006. City officials, including Mayor Kelli Linville and staff from the Planning and Community Development Department, will use the feedback generated by the website to help guide the planning process.

“We are trying to use new and innovative ways to engage people in a way that is most convenient for them,” said Planning and Community Development Director Rick Sepler. “This online service enhances and supplements our in-person meetings such as open houses and public meetings and hearings.”

The two questions currently available to be answered are:

  • What are you most concerned about as the city grows? (users select two choices from a list)
  • What can we do to create a more sustainable community as we grow? (users submit a written answer via text box)

Future questions will address topics covering a variety of City projects, including parks and other public works.

Engage Bellingham also allows users to view, rate, and comment on the ideas submitted by other users. The purpose behind this system is to create a discussion that results in ideas that reflect the needs of all residents (or at least those engaged with the website). At the time of publishing, the website reports at least 25 people have signed up and four ideas on the topic sustainability have been submitted.

The city employees behind Engage Bellingham hope that the project will generate feedback from a diverse base of residents, and enable everyone to make their voices heard in the process of planning Bellingham’s growth. The goal is to achieve broad representation from the community, and to build a better community through the idea of local residents.

For more information on Engage Bellingham, contact Vanessa Blackburn, the City’s Communications Director, at vablackburn@cob.org or (360) 778-8115.

Tobias Osterhaug

Tobias Osterhaug

Tobias is a full-time contributor to Bellingham Business News, covering local business events, tech news, and advice for job seekers in the Bellingham area. He graduated from Western Washington University with a double major in History and Chinese Language & Cultural Studies, and has previously worked as a coordinator in Western’s Writing Center.

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