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Public Engagement Through Social Media

Administrator Martha Johnson reflects on the use of social media at the White House Community Partnership Summit in Columbus, Ohio.

Ed note: This post has been cross-posted from

On Friday, March 16th, the White House Office of Public Engagement and the General Services Administration brought together over 300 regional community leaders and 13 federal agencies in Columbus, Ohio at the third White House Community Partnership Summit. Joined by Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, attendees shared their thoughts and ideas with Administration officials. The conversations reached more than just the people in the room; participants made their voices heard far and wide by using social media.

The White House Community Partnership Summits are dynamic meetings that empower participants to set the agenda through a process called Open Space. Open Space builds on the principles found in social media interactions: you can start a conversation, participate at will, observe and listen or move on to a new discussion. Attendees pitched 45 Open Space discussions on various topics. Through these conversations, concerned citizens connected with government representatives and each other to discuss important issues and solutions for problems affecting their communities

Participants engaged on Twitter using #WHSummit. You can read some of the day’s tweets below or on Storify.

Social media platforms allow participants to keep their Open Space conversations going long after the summit has ended. The Community Partnership Summits are making their way to more regions across the nation, and I urge you to join these events by telling us exactly what matters to your community. You can join the conversation on Twitter by using the #WHSummit hashtag. We’ll be watching the conversation, engaging, and answering questions.

Martha Johnson is Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, and you can follow her on Twitter @MarthaGSA.