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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.

Photo of LaTeisha
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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.

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.


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Photo of Charlotte Fliegner

This is now open source and free !!

Photo of LaTeisha

Brilliant! Thanks for the update.

Photo of DeletedUser


Change by Us is an innovative project, and it's fantastic that it's up on Civic Commons. The platform is free, but I would add that it's not free to implement (or evolve) the platform. Cities will hire engineers (or the Local Projects team) to customize, host, and support the platform. CEOs for Cities, Local Projects, or the CIOs in Philly or Seattle would be able to answer the question, "How much would it cost to implement this in Detroit?."

Photo of Luis Fernando Mizutani Ribeiro

Very Nice!

Photo of Vladimir Melnikov

Thanks for sharing! With my friends we started to think of doing something like this in our city. It could be great social experiment! =)

Photo of Liz Day

I really like that this sources ideas from people in the community. This is important both because they have a better sense of what's going on than those outside, but also because creating the change from within will give residents a sense of pride, ownership and responsibility for the change/growth/improvements.

Photo of DeletedUser


I agree, when people lay claim to something, they usually show pride in that "thing" and take accountability for the growth/end-result.

Photo of DeletedUser


Definitely! Creative use of technology to empower grass roots community organizing.

I'd be curious to compare the results in New York vs. Philly and Seattle, especially regarding the effect of small amounts of seed money. It adds an administrative layer, yes, but it could also be a further catalyst for change?

Photo of LaTeisha

@Jessica, I agree that comparisons by cities (and maybe even regions) might reveal additional insights.

Photo of Charlotte Fliegner

& I think any city can buy this, right?! Local Projects offer their web platform as a package to any council... I'm pretty sure ! So definitely replicable.

Photo of LaTeisha

That's a great point.

Photo of DeletedUser


Great inspiration!

I think this is another sign that sustainable design is about the user as the producer of the service. We're no longer consuming user centered design, we are all actively producing it.

Photo of OpenIDEO

Congrats on this post being today's onsite Featured Inspiration!

Photo of LaTeisha

Aw shucks. Thanks!

Photo of Meena Kadri

**lovin' it**

Photo of Vincent Cheng

ditto, good example