Any community experiences the problem that lack of engagement causes. It’s vital that community members are engaged in the decisions and activities of a community because it directly affects them. Those in charge of making decisions for a community and running town hall meetings often run into the issue of residents not showing up to meetings, but then being incredibly unhappy with new changes, even though civic leaders gave them ample opportunities to provide feedback during public meetings. So, how are community leaders to fix this lack of engagement? Here are some tangible suggestions for encouraging community members to actually get involved in town hall meetings and provide their feedback.
Plan the event well
A big issue with many town hall meetings is that they aren’t well-planned. Instead of throwing together a few talking points knowing few people will attend, make the effort and plan a quality meeting. Create slides or a presentation you can use, even if there’s a dozen people in attendance. Practice your talking points and anticipate any questions that may arise. Also consider offering refreshments at the event; more people will come if they know there’s food.
Community members often criticize community leaders for not adequately communicating with them. Provide people with various opportunities to talk to leaders, whether it’s through specific public hours at the office, online resources, or an open floor at the town hall meeting. Make sure community members know they’re encouraged to offer their opinions and be open to feedback, even if it’s harsh or negative.
Publicize the event
One of the reasons more people do not attend town hall meetings is simply because they do not realize they’re happening. Make the effort to actually publicize the event; post on the neighborhood website, share on the community Facebook page, and post flyers around town. You can even send a flyer to each home in the mail. Making the meeting as public as possible encourages more people to attend.
Offer participation opportunities
Far too few people are afraid to take leadership roles in their communities; this attitude needs to change. Highlight ways community members can help out. Offer volunteer opportunities or ask for help on certain projects. Make it clear you want community members to participate in decisions and discusses. Even encourage more people to run for public office, especially if they want to see change in the community.
Send out other forms of feedback
It’s vitally important to remember that there are lots of community members who simply cannot make the town hall meeting. Maybe they’re confined to their homes because of a medical issue or lack transportation to the meeting. Some people may work various shifts that make it impossible for them to attend a single meeting. Others may have too many responsibilities in the evening to take time to attend meetings. Make sure you provide surveys, in the mail or online, that allow all community members to offer feedback.
Texas is a vast state with many incredible places to visit and experience. If you’re looking for great national parks to wander through or a bustling city, you can find all of that here and more. There are beautiful deserts and quaint small towns. You’ll find great food, people, and architecture. No matter what you like to do, you can find something in Texas that piques your interest. Here are the best cities to visit in Texas. In these cities, you’ll find Texan culture showcased and get a real feel for the state. It’s also possible to take plenty of day trips from the cities and visit towns or areas around them.
If you enjoy history, San Antonio is a great city for you to visit. Many people come here to see The Alamo and other historic sites. Known as the biggest tourist city in Texas, there’s a reason so many people visit San Antonio all year long. If history isn’t where your interests lay, there are still great restaurants to try and you can spend time strolling along the city’s Riverwalk.
San Antonio is incredible, but if you’re someone who wants to go where there are less tourists, than Corpus Christi might be the city for you in Texas. Much smaller than the other cities, Corpus Christi is considered a “beach town” and has a wonderful shoreline. It’s common for sea turtles to nest here, so you might even see a fascinating wonder of nature.
Austin is the capital of Texas and located in the center of the state. While here, make sure you visit the Capitol building and Governor’s Mansion. There’s a thriving music and sports scene, as well as several lakes a short drive from the city. There’s a little bit of everything in Austin, which makes it one of the best cities to visit in Texas.
If you’re looking for another beach experience, Galveston is a great place to go. Located on an island in the Gulf Coast of Texas, you’ll be treated to blue water and great weather. You can visit the Moody Gardens, a large amusement park near the city, or spend time walking down the Historic Wharf.
Houston is the city to head to if you like barbecue. It’s the largest city in Texas, so it lacks some of the secluded feel of a few of the other cities on this list, but it still makes for a wonderful trip. There are plenty of museums to go to, such as the Downtown Aquarium or Johnson Space Center. Make sure you check out the delicious restaurants as well.
Finally, make sure you take time to visit Dallas. In my opinion, a fantastic place to live, Dallas is located in the Prairie and Lakes area of the state, so if you want to travel outside of the city, there are a lot of options to choose from. In the city, there’s an observation deck at the Reunion Tower and also a vibrant nightlife scene, with delicious food and music.
When many people think of Texas, they do not think of a place that has to worry about winter weather. However, this perception is not at all correct, particularly for Northern Texas. There are plenty of issues that can arise during the winter months, especially if winter storms occur. Snow is certainly a threat, as well as freezing temperatures or inordinate amounts of rain that lead to flooding. If you’re moving to Northern Texas or are wondering how you can better protect your home, here are some tips for getting your house ready to weather the trying winter months here in Texas.
Check out your furnace system
Before the winter months begin, take time to examine your furnace system. Most people do not regularly check their furnace and assume it’ll continue optimally running for a long time. The last scenario you want is your furnace to suddenly stop working in the winter as the temperatures rapidly drop. Make sure your furnace is clean and that all connections are secure. You might have to replace certain parts, but if you maintain regular upkeep on your furnace, you’ll avoid greater costs in the future.
Clean your gutters
This step might not be intuitive, especially right before winter, but if you live in areas of Texas that get significant rainfall or even snow, it’s vitally important. Whether it’s just rain or melting snow, there’s going to be a lot of water around your home. Make sure you give it the easiest possible route off of your home and into the ground.
Make sure everything’s insulated
A startingly majority of homes in the United States are not properly insulated, so make sure yours is. In most cases, you can easily add more insulation on top of whatever you have, you just need to buy the materials and secure it in the proper areas. Once you’re done, you’ll likely see a significant decrease in your energy costs as well. During cold months, you’ll save money, be more comfortable, and avoid overexerting your heating system.
Fix any leaks
You might have a minor leak and figure it can wait a few months to get fixed, but leaks should be taken care of as soon as possible. Whether you’re just patching the leak or fixing entire sections of your roof, take care of it before heavy winter storms. What might seem like a small leak could turn into a huge problem as snow, ice, and rain put weight on your roof and occur in large amounts.
Stock up on supplies
Once rough weather occurs, there’s a high likelihood that you may be stuck in your home, possibly without electricity. Make sure you have enough food, water, and light sources to last a few days. Also, if you have pets, stock up on food for them as well. Investing in a generator is also a good idea and so is keeping extra gas on hand for your vehicles or the generator.
Avoid driving during rough weather
If the weather is particularly bad and there’s significant amounts of snow or extensive flooding, just stay off the roads. Even if you’re confident in your driving abilities, you cannot be sure that the other people on the road are safe drivers. Be smart and wait out the rough weather indoors, which shouldn’t be a problem if you stocked up on supplies.
About Robert Peters
I’ve spent almost twenty years leading and teaching at schools throughout Texas and currently serve as assistant superintendent of the Manor Independent School District. In addition to Manor ISD, I serve on the board of directors of the Community Advancement Network and the executive board of United Way for Greater Austin, where I help young people reach their full potential through Project Graduation. I’m a native Texan, lifetime member of Omega Psi Phi, and recent graduate of the Cooperative Superintendency Program (doctor of education) at the University of Texas at Austin.
I’m a proud husband (Michelle) and father (Katelyn and Matthew) as well. I have served on a number of committees that promote excellence and have attended multiple leadership conferences like the Harvard Leadership Conference that encourage progressive change.