|A group of about 25 residents gathered in January of 2005 at the Moraga Library to discuss its dreams and concerns about Moraga. It soon became clear that what was needed was a public that was more informed and involved in the affairs of Moraga. The outcome was Moraga Citizens Network, with a vision to "promote participatory democracy in Moraga".
Everyone was urged to attend at least one Council meeting per quarter and to regularly read the minutes of each meeting. By speaking up at Council meetings, we were able to ask for specific changes that allowed our town government to become more transparent.
From the beginning, MCN chose the internet as a way to communicate with the public. Originally, an email newsletter was sent out every couple of weeks as a way to keep the membership connected and informed. In 2008 "The MCN Link" was launched using Constant Contact's email marketing format, to continue regular communication with its now over 1400 members. As an example of our work, we were able to help the town staff publicize several important town meetings about the Specific Plan for the Moraga Center. As a result, we had at-capacity attendance and involvement of the town's residents.
Besides providing notice of meetings and Council agendas, the Link has grown to include announcements and contact information for many organizations in town. This service by Moraga Citizens Network has noticeably strengthened the connections between people, families, and organizations. It has also become a vehicle to share the many resources and opportunities offered here in Moraga.
Each election season since 2006, Moraga Citizens Network has planned, publicized, and hosted a Candidates' Night where all candidates for Town Council seats speak and are then asked questions by audience members. In addition, in 2006 and 2008 MCN created a question and answer "grid" consisting of 5 questions answered by each of the candidates in 100 words or less. This was printed and sent to every Moraga resident as another way to get information about each candidate to the voting public.
Our guiding principle through the years has been to be an objective, informative voice in Moraga that takes no position on issues. Our belief is that if the people know what topics are under discussion, where to read the relevant documents, and what meetings are being held, people can and will participate. Participation by many informed people will generate better decisions for our Town and create a healthy, vital community.