IVGID GM’s Corner: We’re here to engage with you (opinion) | SierraSun.com

IVGID GM’s Corner: We’re here to engage with you (opinion)

Steve Pinkerton
IVGID GM’s Corner
Steve Pinkerton

Thanks to all of you who came to our “Face to Face with the Trustees” event on Wednesday evening.

The evening was part of the District’s effort to have as many opportunities as possible to interact with and receive feedback from our stakeholders. The Board of Trustees has made it one of their top priorities to hold at least four community meetings per year.

The next community meeting will be held on Saturday morning, June 24 at the Recreation Center. It will be the public’s second opportunity to provide input on the Community Services Master Plan. This Master Plan will be the blueprint for the District’s programs, parks, recreation, cultural and service activities over the next decade.

You can learn more about the Community Services Master Plan by going to the following link on our website: http://bit.ly/2l9bRvJ.

We are trying to find as many different avenues as possible to receive feedback from all of you. With the face-to-face format, interested individuals could have more quality time with the Board than during a formal Board Meeting or during the comment period of a public input meeting.

Face to face allows for more give and take and allows more dialogue in order to better understand the interests of each participant.

At our last public meeting on the Community Services Master Plan, we created an environment where stakeholders could have conversations with our outside experts and our program managers.

In addition, we gave all of the attendees electronic keypads so that they could participate in a very insightful community survey at the beginning of the meeting.

We are planning on holding the next meeting at the Recreation Center so that we can hopefully get more feedback from folks who regularly use the Center.

We also expect to get attendees who haven’t been to the Recreation Center recently, but may be inspired to come back after seeing all the programs that are currently available.

In response to the feedback we received regarding communication in the recent Community Survey (discussed in my last column), I am making it one of my goals to host meetings in different locations, times and days, in order to reach a variety of our demographics and increase communication, engagement, and interaction.

I am also hoping to get permission from Raley’s to hold a public input meeting outside their store. I realize that it is often difficult for residents to find the time to come to one of our venues for a meeting. This format would allow us to come to you instead.

We will be sending out a statistically valid questionnaire to the public to gain more insight on what stakeholders envision for the future of our Community Services activities and programs.

Our Community Survey also provided a good snapshot of property owners’ current level of satisfaction for our existing venues.

We will also access social media, the newspaper and our Quarterly Newsletter to publicize all of our activities to gain public input.

The goal is to interact with as many as you possible. As public servants, we want to provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Our experience has shown that solely relying on traditional public meetings and traditional forms of media leads to gaining a very limited number of viewpoints. However, I have become skeptical about the effectiveness of many of the new tools brought to us by social media.

For example, many news organizations are now eliminating the public comment sections that have accompanied electronic news articles for the past decade. One large news outlet did a study and found that out of 33 million unique users in a single month, there were only 19,400 commenters who created over 491,000 comments.

That is less than one tenth of one percent of all readers. In fact, when they analyzed the number of people who left at least one comment in a two-month period, 67 percent of all comments came from just 4,300 users.

In addition, many of the frequent commenters were very hostile in tone and content and often abusive to other people who chose to comment. It is unlikely that this small group of commenters is very representative of the views of the readership as a whole.

Frankly, we find the same pattern at both our Board Meetings and in our emails from the public. Most of the comments and correspondence come from a small group of people and the majority of the verbiage is quite hostile and abusive. This same small group contributes the majority of IVGID-related letters to the editor as well.

Since our goal is to maximize the benefit to the public, we will continue to endeavor to find as many outlets as possible for gaining your input. If you have more ideas as to how we can engage the community, please send me an email at sjp@ivgid.org.

“GM’s Corner” is a recurring column from IVGID General Manager Steve Pinkerton, who discusses issues and offers updates regarding various district matters. He may be reached for comment at sjp@ivgid.org.