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Red Wing launches 'digital town square'

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Citizens now have another option for sharing ideas and voicing their opinions on Red Wing issues.

The city recently launched imagineredwing.com, a site that includes forums, polls and other ways for participants to get involved in discussions.

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"We want you to think of this site as a digital town square," Council President Lisa Bayley says in an introductory video on the website.

Planning Director Brian Peterson said the city had been looking ways to get citizens more involved that didn't necessarily mean coming to public meetings.

"It's not to take the place of other ways of involving citizens in government," he said. "It's an effort to use some other means to get a larger group participating."

It also is a way to tap into the younger generation or others who might not currently be involved in city government, Peterson said, especially those active online.

"Part of the idea is that there's a whole new generation that's using their smartphones and social media and finding ways of engaging those folks in issues and challenges that the city faces," he said.

Current discussion topics on the site are Mississippi National Golf Links, Old West Main Street and the pottery district, downtown Red Wing and active living.

Peterson said other topics will be added in the future as well as some more open-ended questions to encourage new ideas and discussion.

"We can grow this," Peterson said. "We're just scratching the surface."

The site can include surveys and allow participants to interact and submit ideas, photos, documents and more.

City Council members, the new mayor and department heads will be encouraged to monitor the site and answer questions or provide information as needed, Peterson said.

The city worked with developer MindMixer to establish Imagine Red Wing. The cost to get the site up and running is about $2,000, Peterson said.

The website launched Friday and had more than two dozen participants by Tuesday afternoon.

To encourage people to use the site, it also awards points and has a rewards store with prizes such as Sheldon Theatre gift cards and Colvill pool passes.

"We encourage folks to check it out and give us their thoughts about it and keep an eye on it," Peterson said. "I think this is going to be more and more a great way for citizens to learn about what's going on and also make suggestions and become more involved."

Those interested in participating can find out more and sign up at www.imagineredwing.com.

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