Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dear Bowen Island Council

A number of Bowen Island citizens with interest in social media are beginning to put together online citizen led approaches toward increasing citizen participation in our neighborhoods and community. The belief behind this activity is that if citizen participation increases from a grassroots level more will get done and people will feel increased responsibility and connection to their neighborhoods and community. It is also believed that citizen based neighborhood activities are a step toward lessening our environmental impact (the 100 mile diet could be considered and example, On bowen island there have already been activities where neighbors have taken the time and energy to complete projects for the good of their neighborhood. I can see these neighborhood activities increasing and current technology trends provide online tools to assist.

All the changes occurring with politics, social media and transparency creates unprecedented opportunities for communication and openness. I believe their is an opportunity for the Bowen Island Municipality to be an exemplar in using technology to bring openness to municipal government. A project is forming to support this kind of initiative, see visible government;

A simple example of how this could work, could be for Bob (and or other council members) give brief online conferences of the provincial and federal rules and policies for running a municipal gov't. I am sure their are many simple and important municipal administrative topics that could occupy a 15 - 30 learning experience for the citizenship of Bowen Island. Increasing citizens knowledge in such matters could help in understanding how tax dollars are spent, how BIM adminsitrative processes work, public works function, etc... DimDim ( is a free social media service that could be used for such an activity.

There is already a building knowledge base using social media. This is being facilitated with the use of tagging, in particular the BOWEGOV tag. If you were to click the following links you would see how this tagging approach is connecting knowledge and allowing people to engage in ways they feel comfortable.

1) A search on Google (a shared reference to information related to bowen e-government);
2) Delicious tagging (the beginning of a taxonomy for electronic government);
3) Twitter (a number of brief conversations about bowen e-government and related issues);

Where all this social media and transparency will go in relation to small municipalities is still to be seen, as it is still being "invented". I look forward to your support in building greater transparency and increasing citizen participation in local gov't. If you would like to discuss any of these topics further. Please do not hesitate to contact me,
or any of the others connected to these activities.