The next meeting of Open Gov Chicago(-land), set for Thursday, November 20, 2014, is going to do a deep-dive on Chicago Park District Advisory Councils. Here’s a description:
Our next meetup will be the first in a new series that focuses on learning about and helping grassroots groups that interact with official government functions.
First up is the Park District Advisory Council. There are 194 advisory councils covering the entire city, and they are populated by regular Chicago residents who care about their neighborhoods. We will hear from people who run these councils, find out what kind of data and technology they use, and figure out we can help.
As part of this new series, we’ve done some research on councils. We’ve taken a look at it from a technology view, hoping to kick off some thoughts in the civic tech community on how we might be helpful.
- Overview of Advisory Councils: “An advisory council is a voluntary group of individuals who meet on a regular basis to support the effective functioning of their local park.”
- Advisory Council Guidelines: covers formation, by-laws, and procedures. Seems very much in line with other entities of this kind
- Advisory Council Member Application: simple form for joining. It is a PDF, so it might be good to use a system like Wufoo to make it a more automated process
- Advisory Council Registration Form: a PDF for the formation of a council. Again, it might be nice for this to be automated
- Advisory Council By-Laws: relatively straight-forward anagram PDF
The thing that interested us the most was council meeting dates and contact information for each council. The Advisory Council List is great, because it shows parks that currently have a council. The thing is that in order to find out the relevant info, you have to click on each park and search the page. We wanted to see all of it at once. We also wanted to add more info— council websites, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc.
Some quick stats:
- Approximately 1/3 of parks have an advisory council. There are 610 parks, beaches and facilities in total and 194 park advisory councils
- Most of the councils (148) have contact information (the name of a person) and 116 have email addresses
- We were able to find dedicated advisory council URLs— separate from the official park district website— for 15 parks. I think there are more— we are doing outreach to council leadership to find that out. Anyone can edit the list— please improve it!
- 57 of the councils have a Facebook page. This is great— good to see councils use an existing platform for communication
- 97 of the parks have a listed meeting date/ time, and most of them are specific (“Last Tuesday of the month”), though some are “as needed”. It would be nice to have a calendar for this, so new people can find it easier, and maybe adding them to community calendars like EveryBlock