(Updated at 10:50 a.m.) The McLean Citizens Association is one of the most active civic groups in the area, but it’s an organization largely unknown to many of the residents they represent.
At last night’s (Wednesday) Board of Directors meeting in the newly reopened McLean Community Center, President Dale Stein said the organization’s reliance on local print publications to get the word out about events and the ongoing priorities of the organization is insufficient. Local papers have been growing thinner and delivery has been inconsistent, resulting in less visibility for the association’s announcements, he said.
Stein said the organization is going to need to join the 21st organization and find new electronic methods of communication.
“It starts with electronics, but we may need to get more ambitious,” said Stein. “We’re already sponsoring community-oriented events, like the I Love McLean Party. It doesn’t address planning and zoning issues, it’s a feel-good event. But is there something else we can be doing?”
In the absence of a local government, the MCA is one of the most prominent local voices on McLean issues. Over the last few months, the group has spoken out on issues from the color of local streetlights to the shooting of a local resident by the U.S. Park Police.
But Stein said there have been several occasions where he’s been at public events around McLean where local residents had never heard of the organization. Other members of the Board of Directors shared similar experiences, where those the organization represents had no idea of its existence.
“We’re missing opportunities,” said member Linda Walsh. “We don’t provide conduits for people to know us and get concerns to us.”
The organization does have a Facebook presence, but only has some 330 “likes.” Its website, meanwhile, is rudimentary and not optimized for viewing on mobile devices.
Stein said part of the solution will involve forming closer partnerships with other local organizations. According to Stein, the group was approached recently by the McLean Project for the Arts about setting up a table at this weekend’s I Love McLean party. Stein and other board members said they would be inclined to allow the organization to set up — provided the MCA gets to set up a table at the hugely popular annual MPAartfest in October.
Also discussed: more external outreach via members with public relations experience.
The board voted to put together a small short term committee tasked with putting together a plan to improve communications with the community at-large.
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