Hoquiam’s elected officials are harnessing the power of Facebook to connect constituents with the Re-Vision Hoquiam group, similar in form and function to Our Aberdeen.
Denise Anderson, who started her first term on the Hoquiam City Council in January, started the group in early July, and already 140 Harborites have signed on as supporters, discussing issues from drug use to bike paths on the social media site.
Anderson said she started the group to find a more positive way to discuss Hoquiam’s problems in the wake of the city laying off then re-hiring four firefighters and months of indecision on marijuana legalization.
“The goal is ever-changing,” Anderson said. “But the original thought was that we needed it after the firefighter thing and not reaching a decision on the marijuana.”
The conversations that started on Facebook have carried over to a crowded meeting at Hoquiam City Hall in July and another at the Hoquiam Timberland Regional Library on Aug. 20, with Mayor Jack Durney moderating the discussion.
But the hardest thing will be translating those discussions into actions, Anderson said. The key will be to reach out to members of the community who have expertise in different fields. For example, some citizens expressed a desire for more walking and biking paths in the city, so the group invited Catherine Corkery, a health educator for Grays Harbor Public Health &Social Services to share her ideas at the August meeting.
Corkery explained that there’s already a local movement to increase mobility county-wide through the CONNECT Grays Harbor Coalition — and that Re-Vision Hoquiam could be a key part of helping to in get projects started in the city.
“There are some great ideas floating around, and it’s just a matter of getting people together to look at them,” Corkery said. “The idea is to get communities interested and educated so they can move forward.”
Citizens also had a chance to introduce their own ideas.
There’s a precedent for community groups being able to create change within the city, Durney said, drawing a comparison to the Hometown Hoquiam meetings he started early in his career as Hoquiam mayor.
“We created a list of things we wanted to accomplish, and we’ve worked our way through them,” Durney said.
Successes of Hometown Hoquiam include the creation of the Hoquiam Business Association and a sidewalk repaving project. He called Re-Vision Hoquiam the “next generation of city improvement groups.”
The August meeting didn’t just draw citizens from west of Myrtle Street. Several Aberdonians were also in attendance, including Aberdeen City Councilman Jeff Cook and Al Gregory of the Gregorian Group.
“We need to work independently and together,” Gregory said.
Citizens who would like to get involved with Re-Vision Hoquiam should visit the Facebook page to participate in discussions and find information about upcoming meetings, Anderson said. The Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/groups/14994 82000283139/.