Theme: Authentic Community Relations
In 2017, the Manatee Millennial Movement (M3), a group of young professionals employed by Manatee County Government submitted an application for a project dubbed Speak Up Manatee through the Knight Cities Challenge Grant. The application focused on using technology as well as creative and proactive ways to obtain feedback from residents such as staff going to where people normally congregate (bus stops, shopping centers, festivals, etc.) to get diverse populations that typically do not speak up to have a voice.
M3 was awarded the grant and was tasked with putting this grant to action in early 2018 by spearheading a countywide visioning project called Back to the Future. Back to the Future asks residents to look back 20 years ago to see where we came from, look to the present day to see where we are, and to look 20 years into the future to see what trends and data our communities should be on the lookout for in regards to the economy, quality of life services, housing, and infrastructure.
Back to the Future is a nine-month project that concludes in December 2018. Halfway throughout the project, we've had great success in talking to a variety of communities who normally don't participate in government policymaking. It is said that "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu." So, it it imperative that citizens are part of the discussion at the beginning, rather than the end. Additionally, instead of telling people to meet us at the table (our government building) we are taking the discussion table to the residents and meeting them where they are.