New “citizen observers” group to launch tomorrow night

The idea: Involve more residents at city and county public meetings


“Simply showing up and being in the room leads to better behavior by our elected officials, policymakers, and their staff,” according to organizers launching a new group that would encourage and train local residents about how to show up.

The meeting is set for Thursday, August 24, from 5 to 7 p.m. at New Traditions Café and World Folk Art, 300 5th Ave SW in downtown Olympia.

The yet-unnamed group is focused on arranging to have "citizen observers" at an increasing number of city, county and interjurisdictional meetings of councils, boards, committees and commissions.  Throughout Thurston County there are more than 80 such meetings each month, many of which are attended by few or no members of the public.

“We’re looking to track and document governing processes to increase accountability, engagement, and positive outcomes,” according to Gregory Foster, who is organizing the event.  Foster said, “Too often, we're caught unawares and too late to make the kind of changes we'd like to see in the world.”

Foster is the editor of Cannabis Observer, based in Olympia, which reports on cannabis policymaking in Washington state. His organization makes use of various citizen observation activities in the course of its work.

New Traditions Café is open for concerts and events only, and will have refreshments and drinks available for sale starting at 5 p.m. The formal presentations and discussions are set to start at 5:30 p.m.

Editor’s note: Helping Thurston County residents to “become better informed and more involved in local issues” is a large part of The JOLT News Organization’s mission. We’ll be present at this meeting tomorrow and report back to you about what happens there.