Noozhawk, a local, online news source for Santa Barbara, was the only non-government recipient of the Davenport Institute’s 2010 Online Public Engagement Grant program. Through the grant, Noozhawk has the opportunity to work with the online engagement platform UserVoice.com, to launch an interactive online project through which residents can make recommendations for Santa Barbara’s city budget.
One of the major obstacles for local government online engagement is driving website traffic. That is one reason the Davenport Institute was excited to work with Noozhawk to develop the “Santa Barbara Challenge” – as a local news source, Noozhawk is already a go-to site for Santa Barbara residents. Noozhawk publisher Bill MacFadyen noted in an article announcing the program:
Our intention is to involve our readers in a spirited conversation and authentic debate in the hope — and with the expectation — that, at the conclusion of our project, Santa Barbara’s elected officials and professional staff will be able to make budgeting decisions with a greater understanding of our community’s priorities and values.
The UserVoice platform will launch next week to give Santa Barbara residents the opportunity to participate in important decisions about programs and spending.