CUTGroup Detroit: Citizens in Civic Engagement

Taj Posters

Hey Detroit! This is Ivoire Morrell, and I would like to invite you all on an amazing journey. We will be spreading the word about the city of Detroit’s first Civic User Testing group. Over the next month, myself and Boitshoko Molefhi will be spearheading recruitment efforts across the city informing residents about the CUTGroup Detroit initiative. CUTGroup was created by the gracious Sonja Marizano of Smart Chicago. With the success that it has had in Chicago and as “part of Smart-Chicago’s CUTGroup Collective efforts to establish new CUTGroup’s in different cities” Smart-Chicago has joined forces with the City of Detroit, Data Driven Detroit (D3), and Microsoft to initiate CUTGroup Detroit.

Our strategy involves two elements: The Street Team, and Social Networking. Street team introduction: The CUTGroup Detroit street team (outside of Boitshoko and I) consists of six other members. Here is a quick intro to the CUTGroup Detroit street team:

  • Chelbe Tebbs (Business Administration Graduate, Lawrence Technological University)
  • Christon Mitchell (Broadcasting & Cinematic Arts Major, Photographer, Central
  • Michigan University)
  • Mylene Noel (Architecture Major, Lawrence Technological University)
  • Myra Joyner (Media Communications Major, Lawrence Technological University)
  • Tajmahal Robinson (Media Communications Major, Lawrence Technological University)

Street Team at Work

Our street team will travel to four different Detroit communities over the next month and distribute fliers to citizens/companies in those respective communities. On the social media end, Detroit will walk along with us and get an intimate experience of our time on the streets with the street team as we interact with fellow Detroiters. Because we want as many of you to join us on this journey, we will be on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube so that everyone can walk with us from the comfort of their preferred social media platform. All this will culminate to the first CUTGroup Detroit test which will launch in mid-August.

Before moving any further, allow me to answer the question that is probably circling in all of your heads right now; what is a Civic User Testing Group? A civic user testing group (CUTGroup) is a focus group comprised of diverse citizens selected from around the city/county. These are your everyday people; doctors, mailman, student, cashier, lawyer, police officer, or truck driver… the list just keeps going. These individuals will be testing the user-friendliness of tools (website, computer and phone applications) used by the public to access social services such as transit systems, policing applications, and websites created by developers across the city. As a token of our appreciation for the time members of the Civic User Testing Group dedicated to testing, we have incorporated a little thank you gesture. Here is how the process works:

  • Citizens fill out the CUTGroup profile form (Click here to sign up). Once you do that, we will send you a $5 VISA gift card just for signing up
  • Once you sign up, you will receive email notifications about new testing opportunities. We will ask a few more questions that relate to the technology we are going to test and you can, let us know if you are available
  • If and when you are chosen, you will test civic websites and apps. Testing will take place at selected Detroit locations.
  • Once you complete a test, you will receive a $20 VISA gift card

Ivoire Outreach

The feedback from these tests will be used to improve the applications, which will directly impact civic engagement in the community. We believe that every Detroiter is important in helping us improve civic engagement technology for the city. We all have a role to play either by being testers, recruiting our friends, family, and colleagues to be testers, or by doing both. Detroit is a multi-cultural city, and it is our hope that CUTGroup’s composition should reflect that truth at all times.

After two months of strategic planning, we have arrived to the recruitment phase of CUTGroup development. The recruitment process with begin in Southwest Detroit.

Southwest Detroit: Community of Creativity, Cohesion, and Ethnic Culture

Diversity Mural

Recruitment in Southwest Detroit was an amazing experience. The peaceful and artistic essence of Southwest Detroit was simply refreshing. We began recruitment in the Springwells Village community. Our main targets were community based organizations such as Southwest Detroit Business Association, Congress of Communities, W.A.Y Academy, and the Campbell Library. In addition to this, members of the street team were able to connect with different community businesses and citizens who were very excited about the opportunity of being able to test applications/websites and help improve the community based off of their feedback.

Walk Away Pose

Recruitment efforts continued in the Mexicantown community. The team visited community organizations like LASED, SW Solutions Adult Learning, Southwest Solutions, and the Ford Research and Engagement Center to promote the CUTGroup initiative. Overall we were able to distribute 250 fliers throughout the region and started developing a few relationships with different community leaders. This will enhance our push to make CUTGroup Detroit a household name.

Bo and Chelbe

All in all the first day of CUTGroup Detroit was a great success. Through strategic planning and execution, we were able to spread the word about CUTGroup to different citizens in Southwest Detroit. We were also able to connect with different community based organizations that will help spread the word of our efforts to different citizens in the community. Being able to work together with the different members of the CUTGroup Detroit Street team for the first time was also an enjoyable and memorable experience. When a group of kind hearted, humble, and motivated individuals come together as one to work for the greater good of the community, great things are able to be accomplished. Thank you all for your hard work and support. Stay tuned for week 2 of CUTGroup Detroit recruitment where the team will travel to Midtown Detroit to inform citizens of the city’s new initiative.

Old Man Mural