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Chats With Council

City Council has committed in 2019 to continuing to try new approaches to engage community members who do not typically participate in council matters and meetings.

On Jan. 8, council asked staff to plan and coordinate four chats: one in conjunction with What's Up Boulder and three others to be hosted in locations that less connected communities will find convenient and welcoming. Information for the What's Up Boulder chat is listed below. Other dates and times are still being confirmed.

Purpose of the Chats:
To give community members who do not typically participate in more formal council settings a convenient, drop-in opportunity to engage with their elected officials. The chats are designed to promote short, two-way conversations about issues that matter most to residents and others in the city. The idea originated from council members, who are often as frustrated as community members by the lack of time to have meaningful conversations during open comment or public hearings. 

What to Expect:
These are intended to be informal and structured in a way that allows for more two-way conversation than at regular council meetings. There will be two to three council members at each session, with no formal agenda or presentation. Community members are welcome to come by anytime during the session and stay for as long -- or as short -- as they wish. 

If everyone in the room wants to discuss one topic, the conversations can be more in-depth. If there are a variety of topics participants wish to discuss, it will be important to make space for those, probably by limiting the amount of time council members can spend on any particular one. If there is a large crowd, the city will ask community members to rotate through to allow for maximum participation. Council members could also decide to break into smaller groups if crowd size is an issue.

If a group wishes to utilize these chats as an opportunity to share a collective perspective, the city asks they designate one or two members to attend, with a promise to report back to the larger group.

Coffee, tea or lemonade will be provided.

Upcoming Chats:

Thursday, April 4
4 to 6 p.m.
Jewish Community Center, 6007 Oreg Ave.
What's Up Boulder Chat with Council: come talk with your council members and learn about a variety of city programs, services and upcoming decisions at a fun, family-friendly citywide event.

Other Council Engagement Opportunities in the Works

Walks with Council

Council also expressed an interest in exploring a Walk with Council idea raised by Council Member Bob Yates. The idea is for council members to either join existing walks the city has organized or host specific walks as a less formal way of interacting with residents. Council members hopes these strolls will help them collect input on issues that matter to the public while also highlighting the walkability of Boulder. Engagement and Transportation staff are teaming to develop a proposal to test this suggestion as the weather gets warmer in 2019.

Possible Video Participation Pilot

Lastly, council directed staff to explore the possibility of allowing community members to provide video-taped testimony to council as a method of making participation more convenient and accessible. Several cities in the US have similar programs, and a cross-departmental staff team has been created to conduct more research and sketch out a pilot program for later this year.

The city would love to hear from participants about how these experiments are going. Please send any feedback to Engagement Manager Sarah Huntley at [email protected]