Vassilis Jacobs served as the Detroit Documenters Field Coordinator with Citizen Detroit for the past two years. He’s been working with Documenters, who take notes and live-tweet public meetings to increase civic engagement in Detroit.
Jacobs says every meeting offers a wealth of information.
“[It’s] always enlightening to hear what the public are saying about different issues, and also all the good projects that are happening.” —Vassilis Jacobs, Detroit Documenter
“So every meeting has something new and [I’m] learning a lot of new information,” he says.
He says Documenters is a way to get involved in the community.
“I think it’s a great way to learn about your government, and also get paid to do it, and become part of the public record to not only do you learn yourself, but you contribute to the public record, and the documentation of the boards commissions and authorities that we have in Detroit,” he says.
In the past year Documenters took notes at the Detroit City Council and subcommittee meetings, Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, Detroit Library Commission, Great Lakes Water Authority and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department board meetings, among others.
“We have a lot of different meetings to go to. You can learn about those mission boards and authorities, and then take accurate notes and share them with the public… write stories around that information, or, or share it with your friends, get that information out to people in whatever capacity and you get paid to do it,” he says.
Additional to doing orientations and assigning Documenters to cover meetings, Jacobs facilitated trainings for Documenters like live-tweeting, note-taking and understanding Detroit’s budget workshop.
He says the Documenters often discover city services by documenting.
“There’s just great information coming around… different contracts that are approved… different public comments. [It’s] always enlightening to hear what the public are saying about different issues, and also all the good projects that are happening,” he says.
Jacobs says he’s learned about different people, and Detroiters, through the program.
“You see faces and you can make assumptions, but you don’t really know, and it’s so it’s been great, culturally, to learn about different people that are a part of this program.”