Mesa is about to empanel a citizens group that will be tasked with transforming the city through grassroots ideas that come from everyday residents.
The panel should be named within weeks, setting the stage for months of community forums and eventually trying to get citywide buy-in for the so-called iMesa initiative.
The efforts will begin with sessions in six "villages" where residents can come up with ideas specific to their part of Mesa. The villages align slightly with the City Council districts, but they don't have a solid boundary. That allows residents to decide which village they consider themselves to live in.
"You really give people the flexibility to choose," Councilman Dave Richins said.
The City Council reviewed the iMesa process on Thursday, tracking progress of an initiative that Mayor Scott Smith unveiled in January.
Smith and each council member will nominate two residents in the next two weeks for a 15-person steering committee that will digest the ideas. Residents already have been submitting ideas online, through social media and will soon have a smart phone application.
"We are leveraging technology in a way that we never have before in Mesa," said Kathy Macdonald, Smith's chief of staff.
The city will consider any idea and has a tracking system to let residents know the status of suggestions. The initiative is being pushed as something to improve the quality of life, which should attract more businesses and jobs. Smith has repeatedly said Mesa is at a crossroads, and that residents have to decide if they want the community to exist in survival mode or to start growing.
Some ideas may require voter approval in November 2012. Smith emphasized the need for outside-the-box ideas to revive the city.
"Especially in these challenging times," he said, "you've got to think big."