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E-Democracy.org – Project Blog

Help Us Build an Inclusive St. Paul Online – Join our Outreach Advisory Group

Written by Steven Clift

We are seeking members for our St. Paul Outreach Advisory Group from all background and walks of life in the city.

With our “Be Neighbors” outreach campaign we will bring in thousands of new online Neighbors Forum over the next three years. Our outreach team (hiring now) will be all over the place this summer.

But will “numbers” really matter? Will numbers alone make the neighborly online experience useful and relevant to the many diverse communities within St. Paul? We don’t think so.

Without the true and deep engagement of St. Paul’s diverse communities in shaping and guiding this project, the bridge building across cultures in St. Paul’s local communities we seek will simply not happen or only reach certain communities. Along the way we need tactical forum-by-forum, neighborhood-by-neighborhood input on how to continuously improve both what our crucial volunteers do as well as our staff team. More important than that, we need partners across St. Paul who work to bring the many voices of their diverse communities into a neighborly trust-generating vibrant online community life exchange that seeks in part to respond to claims that diversity inevitably reduces cohesion.

National surveys say people who make over $75,000 a year are five times more likely to be part of a neighborhood e-mail list or web forum than those who make $50,000 or less. And while whites and African-Americans participate near equally, Latinos and likely newer immigrant groups are participating far less often. We can do better than that. We can show that there are open, accessible, and empowering models (beyond the often private virtual gated communities that many commercial efforts tend to promote) that deliver “soulful” community results.

By joining our St. Paul Outreach Advisory Group, we can build something for our community and demonstrate nationally that social media in “public life” can truly build bridges among races and cultures in local communities. Be part of this innovative online first. We can do it.

Here is the full outreach group description. And from our Outreach Coordinator Corrine Bruning:

“Thanks to generous support from the Knight Foundation, E-Democracy has committed to inclusively reaching 10,000 participants across Saint Paul on our online neighborhood forums over the next three years (for more information, visit: http://e-democracy.org/inclusion

“We are committed to intentionally serving our whole community, and are combining strong partnerships with on-the-ground outreach to invite those who wouldn’t otherwise find out about these neighborhood forums. In the latest census Saint Paul reached 44% people of color as are 75% of our community’s children in the St. Paul Public Schools. Our goal is to leverage existing community networks and create new avenues to bring full representation to our online neighborhood forums.

“To facilitate and help guide this outreach, we are creating an Outreach Advisory Group to serve as process stewards, share best practices, and be a sounding board. Please see the description and responsibilities below.

“We would welcome your application. We also ask you to forward this to invitation to others or to nominate excellent candidates. To apply, email Outreach Coordinator by Wednesday, April 25 and respond to the three questions below. You may also include other information (background, resume, etc.) if you wish.

    • “Why you are interested in serving on the Outreach Advisory Group?
    • “Be it through District Councils or other organizations active in local parts of St. Paul, how are you connected to cultural or community organizations or Saint Paul neighborhoods?
    • “What desired goals and responsibilities as outlined in the Outreach Advisory Group Description interest you most? Please be specific if you can.

Thank you!

To learn more about E-Democracy, please visit, E-Democracy.org, and click on “About.” To learn more about the grant funded work, see: http://e-democracy.org/inclusion ”

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