A new online forum is giving St. John residents another avenue to have their voices heard.
The website “St. John Planning for Today and Tomorrow,” at http://stjohnsummit.webs.com, was created by Paul Devine and is open to anyone who wishes to weigh in on St. John issues.
While Devine is the executive director of the St. John Community Foundation, he launched the open forum website on his own, he explained.
“This is separate from the St. John Community Foundation,” said Devine. “I did this as a way for people to talk to each other and get some more dialogue going on out there. I thought an online forum would be a good way to get information across and it’s dedicated to St. John specific issues.”
After registering on the site — which is free and only takes a few seconds — residents can comment on one of the topics already posted, like parking and the Cruz Bay waterfront, or start a new thread.
The forum could solve the problem of people who want to share their opinions but can’t make it to the myriad meetings hosted across St. John, Devine explained.
“I thought this would be a good way to solve the problem of people having to come to meetings,” he said. “This way, people can just jump online and discuss any subject matter they want. I started the website with a few issues, like parking, the waterfront, Coral Bay and a community center. But that was just to get the ball rolling.”
“People can add their own comments on any of those topics or they can create their own topic,” said Devine. “We just want to keep the content about St. John.”
Often the same people attend most of the meetings with their voices the ones most often heard regarding issues. With the new website, Devine hopes to change that.
“We have a group of people who kind of think they know it all,” Devine said. “I got sick of seeing the same people at every meeting and their voices were the only ones being heard. And I’m one of those people.”
“The website will give us an opportunity, over a period of time, to let those other voices be heard,” said Devine.
So far the site has attracted 16 members, nine of whom registered the first day, according to Devine.
“Once we get the word out, I think we’ll get a lot more members,” he said.
While the site is a way for St. John residents to share their opinions about issues, Devine also sees the forum as a way to build consensus and work toward solving problems which have been plaguing Love City for years.
“I keep statistics on how many people come to the site and I have the ability to compile information as an archive as far as what topics people are talking most about,” said Devine. “I think we can find common ground on issues through the forum and then work toward solutions.”
St. John liaison for Senator Louis Hill, Bonny Corbeil was an early supporter of the website.
“I think this is brilliant and really good for us,” said Corbeil about the new online forum. “I think one thing that is important is to really acknowledge the good things that different people do. I herald Paul for thinking of this website and getting it up and running.”
“It’s unrealistic for people to get to meetings sometimes, especially on St. John where people work two or three jobs,” Corbeil said. “This way people can still be a part of the process and have their opinions heard.”
While anticipating exciting discussion, Corbeil hoped the new site would pave the way to solutions.
“I think this open forum is a great way to address some issues and will take us to solutions quickly,” she said.
Check out the website at http://stjohnsummit.webs.com or call Devine at 693-9410 for more information.