Change By Us: Reinventing Public Participation through a "Social Network for Civic Activity"
Change By Us is a platform for putting your ideas on improving the city into action. Through technology like Change by Us, residents, community groups, and elected officials can work together on solving challenges in their city and neighborhoods.
Using SMS messaging and the
Change By Us website, citizens can submit ideas for a more sustainable city. The site then connects users and invites them to project groups. Project groups can then coordinate with city resources and community organizations that can help them achieve their goal.
Change By Us NYC
The service has launched in New York, Philadelphia, and Seattle; an earlier version of the program exists in Chicago and Memphis. In New York, the city has partnered with the Citizens Committee for New York City to offer a limited number of grants between $500 and $1,000 each – totaling $20,000 – to support select projects focused on neighborhood gardening and agriculture, tree- and park-stewardship, and composting. In addition to the grant money, awardees also receive technical assistance from the Citizens Committee for New York City.
The project has the potential to become not only a tool to communicate and collect citizens' ideas and concerns, but also to shift focus toward collaboration among residents, local government, and nonprofits.