Evergreen Topics: An Easy Way to Keep the Public Engaged

August 1, 2016 – OpenGov


If you’ve worked in local government long enough, you’ve likely seen a community divided over a major project—often involving development, the environment, traffic or some combination of those.

You also know that during those times the public is engaged full-force. But, how about during those slower times when there are no major projects driving the conversation?

Public dialogue shouldn’t be centered on the occasional controversy—rather, those issues should be part of an ongoing effort to involve the community on all sorts of topics. That’s the key to building a strong and diverse stakeholder base.

With that in mind, we’ve created a resource to help you sustain online public engagement: evergreen topics. Much like they sound, this list of template topics are designed to spark community conversation, even during a downtime. Consider it your own personal library of ideas, which you can pluck from as needed.

We’ve curated this lengthy list to address a wide variety of topics, all of which still deliver meaningful feedback to government staff and leaders.

For example, you could: ask for ideas on how to boost civic engagement; ask for opinions about the types of businesses that would most benefit the community; or ask for input to help set goals and priorities for your elected officials. In all instances, the feedback can help refine your agency’s efforts, and of course, keep your public engagement going strong.

Keep in mind that you can also piggyback off popular events in your community. For example, if you have an outdoor summer movie series, you could ask residents to suggest the films they’d like to see. Or, if you have an annual festival in town, you could ask the community to tell you what types of activities and attractions they’d enjoy most.

It’s all worth noting that we advise clients to always have at least one open topic on their forums. That way, anyone who visits the forum has an opportunity to engage—making for a positive experience, instead of a disappointment.

If you’d like to access the complete list of evergreen topics, or if you’d like some help tailoring them for your community, please contact your Customer Success Manager.

Category: Civic Engagement