The five-question survey is distributed through Polco, a national survey company. Mary Catherine Carmichael, director of public engagement for the city government, said Bloomington is the first city in Indiana to use Polco to survey citizens.
“We’re always looking for new ways to engage with the public,” Carmichael said. “This is just a new way to find out what the public is thinking.”
Carmichael said Polco surveys will now be posted every two weeks and are no more than six questions long.
“We’re not trying to take up a half-hour of your life,” Carmichael said. “There's so many demands on our lives as human beings and with regards to participating in local government, we want to make that as easy as possible to do.”
The city will use surveys to move forward on issues based on the public’s opinion and gather information about the public’s involvement and knowledge of certain topics.
Carmichael said surveys are sometimes based around current conversations, such as November's survey about electric scooters. Other surveys, such as the previous one about volunteerism and engagement, are based more off of the mayor and other city officials’ curiosity.
This survey measured how much Bloomington residents volunteer and donate to local organizations as well as utilize resources to connect them with an organization where they could give their time or resources.
One question asked if citizens have used the City of Bloomington Volunteer Network.
Interim coordinator Lucy Schaich has worked for the Volunteer Network for the past 19 years. Schaich emphasized the importance of the network in a community that is both engaged and always changing.
“There is not a phone book for nonprofits,” Schaich said. “To know some of the really innovative, grassroots groups, the city has a made it a priority to connect people to those nonprofits that are unique to Bloomington.”
While these surveys were intended to quickly get public engagement, Carmichael said the city is gearing up to send out a scientific survey asking residents a variety of questions next month.
A similar survey was done in 2017, and many questions on this year’s survey will be the same as those on the 2017 survey. This will track negative and positive progress made by the city according to citizen opinion.
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