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Posted on: November 23, 2021

Town to Test New Public Participation Tools

Town of Amherst and University of Massachusetts Amherst Logos

The Town of Amherst invites the community to test out two new online participation tools being developed in collaboration with a team of researchers at UMass Amherst. 

We will be trying out these two tools to get feedback with respect to the discussion on Kendrick Park and related changes to sidewalks, streets, and parking: 

  1.  Amherst Talks: An asynchronous engagement platform to share your thoughts on Kendrick Park and interact with town staff from now until December 9th
  2. Community Click:  A real-time, in meeting, anonymous feedback system during the Town Services and Outreach (TSO) public hearing on December 2nd at 5:30 PM.

Kendrick Park and related changes to sidewalks, streets, and parking will be the focus topic of these upcoming engagement opportunities. On December 2nd at 5:30 PM the Town Services & Outreach Committee (TSO) of the Town Council will hold a public hearing to discuss changes to Kendrick Park. This meeting will take place virtually via Zoom and all are encouraged to attend, public hearing information can be found here. 

About The Community Engagement Project

The Town of Amherst is continuing their collaboration with a team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on understanding local civic engagement in the digital age and building channels for more inclusive engagement. Building off of a community survey being conducted through November 30, the Town is pleased to present two new public engagement opportunities for our community to test out:

Participation Tool # 1: Amherst Talks

Before and after the December 2nd public hearing, community members can go to Amherst Talks, an asynchronous engagement platform to share their thoughts on Kendrick Park and interact with town staff. To participate, you will have to register for the site with an email and password or through an existing social media account. If residents don’t want to participate, but would still like to follow along, they can visit the site and view the discussion without registering. The Amherst Talks site can be accessed at this link: amherst.publicinfrastructure.org This opportunity will be available until December 9th. 

Participation Tool #2: Community Click

During the December 2nd Town Services & Outreach Committee public hearing, a novel real-time feedback system called Community Click will be used, allowing residents to anonymously provide their thoughts and reactions as the meeting happens. A link and QR code will be displayed on the meeting screen during this portion of the public hearing and will appear on the meeting posting and packet materials as well. If participants decide to use the tool, it will open in a separate window from the public hearing in Zoom or can be accessed from a separate device, such as a smart phone. 

Feedback provided by the public during the meeting will be anonymous and optional and will not be visible to the public or Council during the meeting, however it will become a part of the public record of the hearing. It will also be included in the Town Services & Outreach Committee report to the Town Council. Attendees who wish to make public comment may also do so using the regularly established methods of raising their hands during the hearing or by submitting written comments in advance. . A Town Council public comment form can be found at www.amherstma.gov/towncouncil

Why is this important? We encourage our community members to assist us with our goal of expanding public participation by trying out one or both of these tools to share feedback on Kendrick Park during the test of these technologies. Your participation is appreciated and valuable as we seek to improve engagement opportunities on important local issues. 

Our UMass Partners

These tools have been created by the Initiative for Digital Public Infrastructure and the HCI-VIS lab at UMass Amherst. This is one of the ways in which the Town of Amherst is actively seeking to expand and diversify public participation and information sharing.  

Questions? Please contact Brianna Sunryd at sunrydb@amherstma.gov