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Tech startup Civinomics to host civic engagement conference

Posted: Friday, Oct 25th, 2013

Robert Singleton (right), director of public outreach for Civinomics of Santa Cruz and Manu Koenig, CEO, discuss Watsonville's downtown improvement survey as they prepare for the upcoming Civinomicon on Nov. 15. (Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — The technology startup company that has been running Watsonville’s downtown improvement survey as part of the city’s latest effort to revitalize the district will host a civic engagement conference next month in Santa Cruz.

Called “Civinomicon,” the three-day event will bring together county leaders and staff to generate and share ideas on a host of topics that impact that daily lives of county residents, including public safety, transportation, homelessness, water and education.

The brainchild of Civinomics — a company that has created an online platform that makes it easy for people to share and vote on ideas submitted by others — the conference aims to “create a paradigm shift in civic engagement.”

“It will be a place to have discussions on these issues, provide meaningful dialogue and hopefully generate some good solutions which could then be taken up by civic leaders, staff and elected officials,” said Robert Singleton, director of public outreach for Civinomics.

“Our goal to come out of it is to have 10 solid initiatives or policy proposals for the county,” added CEO Manu Koenig.

Singleton said that unlike public meetings, which tend to be reactionary or commandeered by a vocal minority and inconvenient to attend, the conference aims to be inclusive and fun.

“It will be a fun event; food will be provided, and it will be a much more tame, inclusive and proactive approach,” said Singleton.

Keynote speakers currently on the schedule are District 2 Supervisor Zach Friend, Santa Cruz County Treasurer Fred Keeley and Santa Cruz Mayor Hilary Bryant.

There will also be knowledgeable facilitators leading small group discussions, including Susan O’Hare, the public safety citizen task force coordinator for the city of Santa Cruz heading up the group on Public Safety and Donna Meyers, a Santa Cruz City Water Commissioner leading the discussion on water.

Civinomics’ online platform will also be in use at the conference, so people who are not in attendance can see all the ideas generated at the event and contribute to the discussion.

“So if you have a really good idea you can actually put it online and someone can begin commenting and voting on it right then and there,” explained Singleton.

“It is a really unique process of trying to onboard the entire civic community that exists right now,” he said.

After the conference, the Civinomics website will then act as a hub for people to go online and quickly see what was discussed and weigh in on the issues, said Koenig.

To raise money for the conference, Civinomics is holding a fundraising campaign on crowdfunding website Indiegogo.

The campaign lasts until Nov. 15 and organizers are seeking $6,000.

Civinomicon is set for Nov. 15-17 at the Cruzio Building at 877 Cedar St. in Santa Cruz.

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