Finding Your Voice: How to Become a More Vocal Citizen

Want to become a more active participant in your community? Corvallis is known for its politically opinionated citizenry; here’s how to get your voice heard.

groupGet Informed

Corvallis City Club meets monthly for professional, guest-led discussions on a range of issues affecting our city; a different issue is discussed each month. Past meetings have addressed such topics as coordinated care organizations, the funding of Corvallis’ operating budget, and the survival of our art and culture in economically challenging times. Find out more at www.cityclubofcorvallis.org.

Read up on local government publications that include area plans like the South Corvallis Area Refinement Plan; the 2020 Vision Statement that was concocted back in 1997; economic development documents such as the Downtown Corvallis Market Study; and a whole slew of documents aimed at facilitating citizen involvement—A Citizen’s Guide to Land Use Planning is just one example.

An online calendar of city government meetings is available at www.corvallisoregon.gov/index.aspx?page=553.

Send an Email, Make a Phone Call

Have thoughts on how our city government could be better? Talk to your city council representative directly. You can find the contact information of Corvallis’ city council at www.corvallisoregon.gov/index.aspx?page=52.

Make sure you’re talking to the right city council member by first identifying your neighborhood’s ward at www.corvallisoregon.gov/index.aspx?page=77.

Become a Member or Volunteer

Groups like Greenbelt Land Trust, Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services, and the Corvallis Independent Business Alliance advocate for such values as sustainability, equality opportunity, and a strong local economy. Become a member or volunteer of these, or similar organizations, and help support their advocacy.

Neighborhood associations are a way to stay up to date on land use, development, and safety within your own little corner of town. Visit www.corvallisoregon.gov/index.aspx?page=1127 to see if your neighborhood already has one; otherwise, you may consider starting your own (details are at the link).

Get Plugged In

Many politically active groups have a Facebook presence; “like” your organizations of choice and have their updates seamlessly appear in your newsfeed. Staying abreast of local events has never been so easy. Good ones include Corvallis Sustainability Coalition at www.facebook.com/SustainableCorvallis (also online at http://sustainablecorvallis.org) and the Downtown Corvallis Association at www.facebook.com/downtowncorvallis.

Talk Back

Our city government does a pretty good job seeking feedback from residents. When you have the opportunity to fill out a Citizen Attitude Survey (they’re distributed to 1,200 randomly selected residents each fall), do it!

Often when launching a new initiative, government agencies will seek to raise awareness and get feedback. This is the ideal time to share your thoughts. For example, Public Works is currently seeking input on its Healthy Streets Initiative, and just launched the Healthy Streets Interactive Forum at https://reach.northjacksonco.com/healthystreets, an editable map open to residents—especially cyclists and pedestrians—to help identify roadways and paths that feel unsafe.

Go to http://www.corvallisoregon.gov/index.aspx?page=1368 to learn more about the Healthy Streets Initiative, and scroll down to “How Can I Get Involved?” for more details outlining participatory opportunities.

Taking an active role in the workings of our city not only gives your values weight, it can make you more informed, and introduce you to even more issues that matter to you. Not to mention all the like-minded Corvallis residents you’ll encounter and build bonds with along the way. If you have a little time and thought to spare, civic involvement—beyond just voting—can be a gratifying endeavor.

Did we miss something? Please let us know in the comments section below!

By Mica Habarad

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