How to Promote Civic Engagement in Public Issues

Utne:  “With collaborative consumption, access is valued above ownership and “mine” becomes “ours,” allowing everyone’s needs to be met with minimal waste. Sharing is Good (New Society Publishers, 2013) by Beth Buczynski is your roadmap to this new and exciting economic paradigm. In this excerpt from chapter six, “What to Share,” learn how to create civic engagement in your community and find solutions to public issues.
“Participatory government is the idea that all members of a population should be able to make meaningful contributions to decision-making. For too long, we’ve been content to vote, or not, hoping that elected officials will actually keep their promise to act in the best interest of the people. The power of the Internet now makes it much easier for all levels of government to become transparent, sharing data and engaging the public in a dialogue that leads to more creative and efficient solutions. Here are a few resources that promote civic engagement in one’s own governance.
Neighborland—People who live and work in a neighborhood know what services, infrastructure, and businesses their community needs, whether it’s a local grocery store, cafe with WiFi, bike lanes, or a recreational center. Neighborland offers residents a friendly and engaging tool to voice their needs and connect with like-minded people to make change happen.
ParticipatoryBudgeting—The Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) is a non-profit organization that helps communities decide how to spend public money, primarily in the United States and Canada. This organization works directly with governments and non-profits to develop participatory budgeting processes in which local people directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. It’s their goal to include those who are normally left out of these types of discussions and decisions, namely the public! PBP offers many different opportunities for participation, from joining or starting a participatory budget movement in your own town, to volunteering, jobs, and internships. This isn’t a typical collaborative consumption service, but rather an invaluable resource for people who would like to see more transparency and community involvement when local government spends public monies.
OpenGovernment—A free, open-source public resource website for government transparency and civic engagement at the state and local levels. The site is a non-partisan joint project of two 501(c)3 non-profit organizations: the Participatory Politics Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation; OpenGovernment is independent from any government entity, candidate, or political party. The ultimate mission of OpenGovernment is to ensure that all three branches (executive, legislative, and judicial) at every level of US government (federal, state, city, local) comply with the principles of open government data.
YourView—YourView aspires to give Australians a stronger democratic voice. It has the unique ambition to present what people really think about major public issues—and giving that collective wisdom a role in the national political discourse.”