In August last year I made up my mind to create a blog where we could share the concerns and achievements of our project on municipal governance and sustainable development.
We partner with city councils, mayors and community-based organizations to implement projects and initiatives (pdf).
How the blog helps us do our work:
- Allows municipalities to consult on planned project activities
This not only helps make our project more transparent but it also encourages participation during planning. Since it’s not formal communication, it’s easier to get comments and suggestions (we received 200 comments so far). We also provide information on training for our municipal support teams, and when I blogged about public speaking skills, it immediately became the most wanted topic for training in 2012.
- On-the-job training for municipal partners
Whenever I blog about project activities or achievements, I add links to reference materials – publications, presentations or related national legislation – to make sure that those interested in the subject can learn more about it.
The blog provides valuable information on: creating active community-based organizations (service cooperatives, homeowners’ associations of, multi apartment houses, hostels, public organizations in schools and kindergartens); introducing quality management systems for municipal services in accordance with ISO 9001:2008; the benefits of introducing e-governance in the activities of the city council and its executive bodies; how to incorporate sustainable development issues into curricula for secondary schools and universities; what to do if the land fill is 99% full; and how to address the solid waste management at the local level.
The blog helps motivate our partners to establish the inter-municipal cooperation, lets them know what they can do to strengthen the rule of law in their administration, provides information on how to adopt a community-based approach to local development.
The blog is a great place to share training opportunities with a wide audience. The real bestseller of my blog last year were the real-time reports from the study tour to Switzerland (1 day, 2 day, 3 day, 4 day, 5 day), or the back-to-office blog about the knowledge and innovation workshop in Bratislava.
- Opens the door to new opportunities for municipalities
Over time, our partners become more and more experienced, and come up with really good projects and initiatives, but we cannot support all of them because of budget constraints. That’s why I believe it’s necessary to share opportunities offered by other projects or donors. This can also allow for collaboration with other projects (in Ukrainian).
- Personalizing “likes” and “comments” reveals interests of municipalities
We often look for partners to implement initiatives and when our municipal partners comment on thematic blog posts, we can see their development priorities and can then explore opportunities to work together. This is exactly what happened when I blogged about why I want my kids to be educated on sustainable development. Several municipal project coordinators commented, asking whether teachers in their cities could participate in the training mentioned in the blog post.
- Helps strengthen partnerships
I post updates on national legislation in the area of our joint work (such as the draft law to prohibit plastic bags, in Ukrainian), share new policy documents and UNDP publications (such as the Human Development Report 2011 in Ukrainian), or simply congratulate partners on the occasion of the New Year (in Ukrainian) or the Local Self-Government Day (in Ukrainian).
Our Facebook page also helps us share new blog posts, and I sometimes come across my articles on other Ukrainian web-sources, especially on regional and municipal web-sites.
Do you use social media like Facebook or blogs to support your work? What are your favourite examples of engaging with communities or local governments using social media?