Local Government Discussion Groups and Blogs
Electronic discussion lists, also known as listservs, e-mail lists, and discussion groups, are a powerful tool for elected officials. They provide an opportunity for a group of people who share common interests to communicate via the Internet with others who share the same interests. For example, the localgov listserv sponsored by MRSC is a good place to post general questions about hot issues facing cities and counties. A good general source for listserv information is Tilenet, which has a searchable directory of listservs along with descriptions and instructions on how to subscribe. Another interesting source for listserves is Yahoo's eGroups (http://www.egroups.com). They host a range of listservs on a variety of topics.
A Few Pointers on Subscribing to Listservs
When you initially subscribe to a listserv, it's very important to type the message exactly as instructed on the list below. Leave the subject line blank and type only the required message. Do not include your signature block in the message.
Once you are subscribed to the listserv, you will generally receive a message confirming that you are subscribed and giving you instructions for posting messages, unsubscribing, and other options. The address for subscribing (and unsubscribing) is different from the address for sending messages to the list.
A good listserv thrives on participation and sharing; if you post a lot of questions, it's a good idea to share what you've learned with others on the list. With busy lists, you can sometimes receive dozens of messages a day, so be prepared.
A blog (a contraction of the term "web log") is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual or an organization, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. Recently local governments have established blogs and some topical blogs have been established addressing subjects of interest to local governments.
Listservs and Other Discussion Groups
General Local Government Listservs
LOCALGOV - This list is sponsored by MRSC and covers a broad range of local government topics. It is intended primarily for local government officials, municipal leagues and non-profit associations to share information, innovations, and inquiries. To add your name to the subscriber list, visit the Yahoo Web site and follow the instructions to join this group. There is no charge for subscribing. You may unsubscribe from the listserv at any time by returning the Yahoo Web site at the above address. Also see an archive of previous messages at the same Web address.
Washington Climate Change List - Information on meetings, updates and accomplishments from the various Washington State committees working to address climate change. Also includes news and information on Washington state and global climate change issues. Instructions for joining WA-CLIMATE-CHANGE are available on the listserv Web page.
WIIF - Washington Information Issues Forum, is an electronic discussion group sponsored by the Washington State Library. It started in 1994 as part of an LSCA project to bring Internet to public libraries in Washington state. It is open for all who are interested in Washington libraries. To subscribe to the list, send email to: email@example.com. Your message should contain a single line of text reading: "subscribe WIIF [Your Name]"
Planning and Community Development
Cyburbia Forums - The oldest and most active English language urban planning message board on the Internet. Membership is free. Instructions for joining Cyburbia are available on the Cyburbia Forums Web page.
APA Washington Listserv – Limited to members of the Washington Chapter of the American Planning Association. Join the APA Washington Listserv to communicate with other members of APA Washington. Instructions for joining the Washington APA list are available on the APA Washington Listserv Web page.
Planning Association of Washington - Limited to members of the Planning Association of Washington. The PAW listserv is intended to be used as a forum for sharing planning problems and solutions. PAW members can subscribe to the list by sending an e-mail to the following address: planningPAWfirstname.lastname@example.org.
MUNI-CABLE - A service providing news about cable television and telecommunications regulatory and legal matters of interest to local government and public access officials. To subscribe, visit the Yahoo Web page.
TELECOM-CITIES - This list, sponsored by the Taub Urban Research Center, is dedicated to exploring the impacts of new information and communications technologies on the growth and development of cities and metropolitan regions throughout the world. To join, send E-mail to email@example.com with the subject line blank and the message: "subscribe TELECOM-CITIES [email@domain Firstname Lastname]".
More Local Government Listservs
We invite you to share the wealth by suggesting your favorite local government-related listserv to add to this list. When you find a listserv that you think other local government officials in Washington would find useful and informative, be sure to share the information by e-mailing information about the listserv (list address and message for subscribing) to MRSC. If we agree that your suggested listserv fits with our local government emphasis, we will add it to this list. Send your suggestions to Carol Tobin, MRSC Planning Consultant, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local Government Blogs
There is considerable debate about the use of social networks, such as blogs, as tools for civic engagement: they create a lot of “chatter,” but don't necessarily lead to collaborative ways to solve local government problems.
Climate 411, Environmental Defense Fund - Maintained by the Environmental Defense Fund, providing plain-English explanations of climate change science, technology, policy, and news.
Local Open Government Blog, Foster Pepper - Blog maintained by Foster Pepper law firm; resource for current legal developments.
Law of the Land Blog - A blog on land use and zoning, maintained by Albany Law School Associate Dean and Professor Patricia Salkin, designed to provide a forum for the discussion of current laws, policies and decisions that affect the use of land.
Smart Growth Around America Blog - Maintained by Smart Growth America, a national coalition working toward better solutions for U.S. communities.
More Local Government Listservs and Blogs
We invite you to share the wealth by suggesting your favorite local government-related listserv or blog to add to this list. When you find a listserv that you think other local government officials in Washington would find useful and informative, be sure to share the information by e-mailing information about the listserv (list address and message for subscribing) or blog to MRSC. If we agree that your suggested listserv or blog fits with our local government emphasis, we will add it to this list. Send your suggestions to Carol Tobin, MRSC Planning Consultant, at mailto:email@example.com..