Every other Monday, I usually watch Ann Arbor City Council meet while tweeting commentary under the hashtag #A2Council. It’s kind of like Pokemon, but without the fun names. For those of you who are annoyed by it, my apologies. Tonight’s an off week, so I thought I’d write about other ways to engage the city besides throwing tomatoes.
I recently attended a local “unconference” for people who want to make a difference in their community. There were a number of different tracks, and I chose to participate in the civics track. I heard a lot of great ideas, one of which I’d like to highlight, and two other things outside the conference that I’d like to share.
- If you care about civics in Ann Arbor, please consider making a donation to CivCity, the next project of Mary Morgan, one of the founders of the Ann Arbor Chronicle. The Chronicle has been an indispensable tool when it comes to researching decisions made by city council and the various commissions in the city. Ultimately, I’d like to see the city be able to offer the kind of transparency the Chronicle brought, but in the meantime, CivCity is a great followup.
- Did you know Ann Arbor has an online forum to solicit input from the public about different topics? No? Welcome to the club of almost everyone in the city! Okay, maybe it’s just my usual club of me by myself, but in case you’re like me, it’s called A2 Open City Hall. Currently, they’re soliciting feedback regarding dog parks. Nobody has responded. You could be the first.
- You can participate in your city government! If you’re not ready to run for mayor or city council, there are boards and commissions you can participate in. The hardest part for me was figuring out how to get onto one. I shall lead you to the elephants’ graveyard.
- Decide you really want to devote an hour or two a month to civics. Don’t be a flake.
- See what vacancies are available on various boards and commissions: http://a2gov.legistar.com/PersonDetail.aspx?ID=0&GUID=VACANCY
- If none of those interest you, please review this list of boards and commissions, and write down the ones you might be interested in: http://a2gov.legistar.com/departments.aspx
- Fill out this application (maybe someday it will be online), and include different boards and commissions you might be interested in: http://www.a2gov.org/departments/city-clerk/Documents/Board%20and%20Commission%20Application.pdf
- Return or mail it to:
City Hall – 3rd Floor
301 E. Huron St.
PO Box 8647
Ann Arbor, MI 48107-8647
- Eventually, you’ll receive a notice in the mail if you’ve been confirmed to be on a board. Or, you can watch City Council live and hear your name and confirmation when and if it happens. Don’t blink.
You can read more here about boards and commissions: http://www.a2gov.org/departments/city-clerk/Pages/Boards-and-Commissions.aspx