MindMixer Helps Citizens Engage With Their Communities

How many times have you had a brainstorm on how to improve your local community? What about that dangerous intersection that needs more warning lights? Or an idea that could help your city become a magnet for fill-in-the-blank activities? Head to MindMixer, a platform that is helping organizations communicate more effectively with their communities.

One of the biggest roadblocks to implementing local community ideas is finding resources in city government or local organizations who might be able to help. More importantly, how can you involve like-minded individuals in the discussion?

MindMixer = A New Type Of Civic Engagement Platform

A new type of civic engagement platform - like MindMixer - can help. MindMixer is in essence a “virtual town hall,” a community forum where constituents can meet to discuss issues and share ideas. (Here’s an overview of how MindMixer works.)

Without time and location constraints, citizens can conveniently share ideas while managers gain community insights. According to the 2012 CivicPlus Digital Citizen Engagement survey, 40% of citizens want to provide input on municipal government.

From Los Angeles To Calgary

MindMixer COO Nathan Preheim tells me that the company has attracted more than 300 communities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, plus its first Canadian client, the city of Calgary. Among civic, education and healthcare organizations that are using the service to engage their communities, the governor of Colorado is using it to better engage his entire state.

Here are a few examples of how municipals governments are using MindMixer:

Orlando, FL: When residents were asked how much more they would be willing to pay to have half of their food sourced from local farms, 36% of respondents said they would pay 10% more, and 22% said they'd pay 5% more. While the response rate was low, it shows the potential of civic engagement as the use of these platforms increases.

Boulder, CO: InspireBoulder held a Reusable Bag Design Competition on the MindMixer site. The winning design is set to be used on 30,000 reusable grocery bags to be distributed by the city.

Park City, UT: One resident’s idea to implement a community composting program became a reality when Park City’s Environmental Sustainability Manager approved the concept, which is similar to an ordinance passed by the city of San Francisco.

MindMixer Buys VoterTide

MindMixer recently acquired VoterTide, a social media intelligence company that specializes in activating audiences who follow hot topics for political campaigns, non-profits and special-interest groups. Preheim says the company’s thinking was, “How can we use social media to help our clients better engage topics?”

All existing clients will have access to Votertide audiences. Going forward, adds Preheim, “We are in the process of building an application framework, called Community Insights.”

Given the current pressure to shrink governments, the populace will have to take more active roles in the governance of their communities. Platforms like MindMixer could make it easier for people to take on and succees in those new roles.