Theme: Authentic Community Relations
In 2016 Salisbury City Manager W. Lane Bailey developed a series of small-group “community conversations” in multiple neighborhoods to receive feedback and information from residents. The feedback indicated a lack of community self-esteem, combined with limited resources were creating a communication challenge.
Staff realized residents were often unaware of the programs and services offered by the City and other non-profit agencies. They determined simple “door-knocking” to visit residents at their homes could provide updates on city programs and begin building relationships with residents to improve trust and communication.
Using a large map featuring all 21.7 square miles of the city, specific areas of the city were identified. Community Engagement Fridays was launched April 28, 2017, and is carried out every Friday in a different neighborhood of the City. Employees from various departments gather to canvass neighborhoods, speak with residents, provide information and most importantly, listen to their concerns and feedback. Employees are able to meet residents “where they are.” A recap of the information is sent to all applicable departments for follow-up and to answer directly during the following work week.
To date Community Engagement Friday has reached more than 35 neighborhoods over multiple Fridays, with few exceptions. During the summer months, the walks are held in the morning hours due to rising afternoon temperatures to accommodate the comfort of participating employees.