Connecting the denizens with their representatives is one of the foundations of democracy, and currently one of the best ways a citizen can communicate his problems, issues and concerns is through a town hall meeting. However, to be able to attend town hall meetings, you will have to dedicate the time and the energy to do so and hence only the people who are truly affected by an issue, or are on the polar extremes of it, end up making it to the town hall meeting.
Therefore, instead of establishing a calm environment for discussion and achieving a representative opinion on an issue, we have a very likely situation in which the debate is reduced to screamed sound bites.
To tackle this issue and to be gather a more representative opinion on issues concerning the urban citizens of the United states, the Give a Minute! Campaign has been lunched in Chicago at the end of December with plans to spread to Memphis, NY and San Jose.
What is it about?
The campaign posted fliers and ads across the city asking chicagoans a simple question “What would encourage you to walk, bike and take CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) more often?” Those ads have been posted everywhere, on buses, the Chicago ‘L’, and public spaces inviting anyone that comes across them to participate either through SMS or on the Web. After that, those ideas are displayed on their website in a post-it note style platform that allows people to share the ideas that they like.
While there is no shortage of people voicing their opinion on the internet, what sets this campaign apart from others is that it couples each question with a set of influential leaders in the community who will be reading the suggestions and responding to their favorite ones.
This way, you create a clear channel between the citizen and those who are in a position to make a difference and achieve a solution for a problem or at least work towards one.
The Buzz In Numbers:
The campaign seems to have generated interest in each respective community with news coverage and blogs talking about it and asking the question of how effective it might be in leveraging a change. As for the blog, there are plenty of suggestions on the board of each city the quality of the suggestions tends to vary quite drastically, so while some people suggest that this is detrimental for the campaign’s cause to me it seems like a display of transparency which will give legitimacy to the campaign.
While the campaign is ambitious, it certainly is a work in progress. Also, although the method of generating interests through flyers is understandable approach to market when you aim to attract the city dwellers, some promotion on social media would have helped the campaign pick up some steam. For instance, opening up a Twitter account that will act as another venue for receiving inputs and restricting the ones that get displayed on the web to those who are in the Chicago metro area. Or perhaps promoting their Facebook Page a bit so that it wouldn’t have only 11 people following it!
So while the idea of crowd-sourcing urban development and change is certainly thrilling and although this campaign was ambitious, it is still very lacking in its delivery and polish.
What do you think of such campaigns? Can change be achieved through them? Share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.