Manchester Office of Communications Wins CCM’s Municipal Excellence DEI Award for “Your Voice Matters Manchester"
The Town of Manchester Office of Communications and Civic Engagement has reached a significant milestone in its dedication to community involvement and inclusivity. The proud recipient of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) Municipal Excellence Awards in the Topical Category: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Award for the Your Voice Matters Manchester engagement platform.
Since its launch in 2020, amidst the challenges posed by the COVID 19 pandemic, Your Voice Matters (YVM) has served as a strong example of adapting to the ever-changing needs of the Manchester community. During a time of social distancing and building closures, the tool offered a space for people to continue conversations, share ideas, and stay up to date on the progress of major Town projects.
“This innovative tool was designed to bridge the gap between community members and Town staff, enabling an inclusive dialogue on vital town projects and initiatives. I think the opportunities are endless and the more we’re able to cultivate brave spaces both online and offline, the better we’ll be at reaching voices that aren’t typically accounted for,” says Brianna Smith Director of Communications and Civic Engagement.
While we still have a lot of work to do in creating more equitable and inclusive engagement efforts, this platform has helped to start important discussions around community-driven decision making that ensures all voices and ideas are heard and considered throughout the project process.
With over 20K site visitors since launch and an average of 400 project visits per day, the numbers continue to grow as new projects are shared with the community. From Parks & Facilities Master Planning to Designing a Future Library, YVM offers an accessible and flexible digital space for Town staff to transparently share project information and for Manchester community members to actively share their feedback directly with them and one another.
Unlike traditional channels such as Facebook, YVM is an ADA-compliant, tablet-mobile-friendly, translations accessible, and verified digital space that seamlessly connects community members directly with Town project team members. Feedback is not lost or miscommunicated through the scrolling of newsfeeds or changing of algorithms.
“YVM has helped us explore new ways of connecting with the community. In addition to traditional methodologies such as paper surveys, this platform has opened doors to new tools that allow for more two-way communication. It’s been a great platform to help clarify and communicate transparent updates on our department’s major projects,” says Emma Petersen, Manchester Principal Comprehensive Planner.
“What I love most about the platform is the ability to respond directly to community members. When we used YVM for the Parks & Facilities Master Plan, we received a lot of creative feedback. Having the ability to not only collect but respond to the comments helped our department build better relationships with residents,” says Nicolas Arias, Manchester Recreation Supervisor.
This award serves as a reminder of the platform’s pivotal role in fostering a strong and more connected community. It also highlights the importance of civic engagement efforts and acts as a small example of what a larger engagement ecosystem can look like.
As a result of the success of this platform, the Communications & Civic Engagement Office has spent the last year developing larger efforts to learn more about the community’s needs through a new program called “Community Conversations” facilitated by the Communications & Engagement Assistant Michelle Doyle. “This program aims at uncovering friction points, opportunities, and overall needs of community members through one-on-one discussions. We’ve already gleaned a lot of fruitful insights that will inspire new ideas for us to pilot in 2024,” says Michelle.
We recognize that this platform is just one small step forward in a much larger journey and want to highlight that the community’s active participation continues to play a crucial role as we move towards more inclusive and accessible engagement efforts.
If you haven’t visited yet, we encourage you to check out yvmmct.com to learn more about this platform and to let you voice be heard!