We live in a city that has a population of 4,000. It’s big enough to have a library, big grocery store, restaurants, and other things that mean we don’t have to leave town if we don’t want to. Although Andrew does work about 20 miles away.
Andrew has been involved with community things for the past couple of years. He spent a year on the Planning Commission. And a year ago he was elected to a four year City Council term. There were three seats open and only three people running but he did come in second, which meant a four year term rather than a two year term.
In January he began his official duties on City Council. He’s not a politician. But in our small city he’s able to help make the community a better place without the “politics” of bigger cities and that of the federal level. I think he has been doing a great job so far. Hopefully others would agree!
Last week Andrew and I went to the Michigan Municipal League (MML) conference in Dearborn. More than 400 people from across the state attended this conference. It’s a gathering of city council members, city managers, and others involved in city government. I was able to go to the conference and even sit in on sessions with Andrew. I personally have also enjoyed learning about and being a part of (even if it’s from an observation standpoint) what’s going on in our community. This conference was to help communities become even better.
One of the recurring topics at the conference was social media. The question of whether or not social media is a fad or something that’s here to stay was brought up. I think it’s here to stay. I think that there are some fad-type things within social media but overall this way of connecting and communicating is pretty powerful. In one of the sessions about ideas on using social media for local government and general city information the following video was shown. I thought it was quite interesting!
Younger people these days are used to communicating using technology. Cell phones are used more for internet use and texting. For these people this kind of communication is “real”. To them it’s just like talking to someone in person or over the phone.
Andrew and I being in our mid-30s are on the edge of being a digital native, or someone who has had some sort of digital presence starting from school age (or before). I didn’t have an email account until I was in college. Surfing the web wasn’t something done on a regular basis until after I was out of college. I started my first blog about 10 years ago.
But maybe we were a bit ahead of our time at least in the beginning of the digital age. We actually met online before it was a norm (but that’s a story for another post if you don’t already know it). We also were calling ourselves “Amandrew” waaaaay before Brangelina and the others who have followed. Trend setters – that’s us!
But now I find myself not keeping up with “kids these days”. I don’t text. I don’t tweet. I have a Facebook account but I don’t have hundreds of friends. It’ll likely be easier for high school and college friends to keep in touch now. I’ve had to find these people from my past on Facebook through searching and being found.
Most businesses now have a Facebook page and also tweet. At the conference various governments were encouraged to use social media as a way of informing people about your city. It’s free. It’s relatively easy. It gets the community involved. You can see what the community is thinking about various issues and events.
Lowell is currently working on a website revamp. It’s in early stages but it’s going to happen. Andrew’s on the committee to work on this project. He’s familiar with having a web presence and helping out with the city webpage and internet happenings is something he has an interest in.
Social media has become a big part of own internet presence. I have a handful of blogs. I’ve been an admin of an online book club in the past. I’m currently starting a group photography blog. I’m on Facebook. I have a Flickr account. While I didn’t grow up with these things being a part of my life I have had fun incorporating them into my life.