Birmingham launches site dedicated to community input

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 3, 2021

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BIRMINGHAM — Along with regular e-blasts, social media postings and virtual meetings with remote participation, the Birmingham City Commission has taken another digital step to keep residents in the know and able to share input on current issues.

Last week, Engage Birmingham was launched as part of the city’s existing website. The platform boasts a variety of ways visitors can learn about concepts and ideas introduced to city leaders, discuss them with fellow residents, gauge topics with polls and surveys, and share their own ideas for making a better Birmingham.

The goal, according to Melissa Fairbairn, the assistant to the city manager, is to help residents more easily participate in the municipal decision-making process, even with obstacles like the COVID-19 pandemic.

The platform, powered by the Bang the Table community engagement platform, is open to residents, local community members and stakeholders in Birmingham, meaning that business owners will be able to share feedback, too. City documents show that $14,900 was allocated from the 2020-21 computer equipment fund to launch the site.

“Collaboration with the community is an important piece of our decision-making process, and we are proud to offer Engage Birmingham as another tool to engage the public,” Fairbairn said in a prepared statement.

Commissioner Clinton Baller was elected to his seat in 2019, largely on the platform of increasing residential engagement. He said Engage Birmingham could be an effective tool to achieve those goals, as long as people know it’s there.

“(Engage Birmingham) is a terrific platform and has the potential to engage constituents who otherwise might not get involved. But it must be promoted by the city and embraced by residents to have maximum effect,” Baller said in an email. “I’m confident that Engage Birmingham will be a big success because our administration is committed and our constituents really care about their community.”

To get things rolling, visitors should head to Engage Birmingham and register. Once they do, they’ll start sharing thoughts straight away by participating in a survey about how they currently engage with Birmingham officials.

Among the first topics to be presented on the site will be projects like naming the city newsletter and thoughts on where new pickleball courts should be installed. The courts are part of the city’s parks and recreation bond plan approved by voters last fall.

“Community input is critical to ensure that we are making decisions and using our resources to benefit everyone in the community. Engage Birmingham offers a convenient way for the community to share their voice,” Lauren Wood, the director of public services, said in a prepared statement. “The Public Services Department is excited for this new platform as a way to receive input on various parks bond related projects.”

Visitors to Engage Birmingham can also review the 2040 master plan, the first draft of which has just been accepted by the City Commission.

To register for updates and input opportunities with the city of Birmingham, visit engage.bhamgov.org.

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