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Empowering everyday citizens to create change

Bringing people together and involving ordinary citizens in the policy making process at the local level can restore vibrancy and potentially improve economic outcomes.

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Written by DeletedUser

The governmental institutions that work within cities and the citizens they represent can be a huge source of vibrancy in communities. I truly believe (and have seen) the transformative power that government has when it works with (rather than simply for) ordinary citizens.

Furthermore, steadily declining confidence in public institutions (e.g. the Occupy Movements) in addition to the emergence of increasingly complex economic and policy problems necessitates a dramatic change in policy making, and begs the question of whether better policy solutions and economic improvement might be generated by involving those who are impacted by the decisions that governments take.

At the same time, a new generation of internet-based tools have emerged, creating an unprecedented platform for collaboration and movement building - look at Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, or the Arab Spring (or even the OpenIDEO Platform) for examples - that are transforming many aspects of our public and private lives. These tools have enabled a new approach to communication and human interaction that have the potential to invite a wider swath of the population into governance, rather than only those who can afford to attend public meetings.

I wrote my master's thesis on how Government Agencies can use Social Media to better engage with citizens. Instead of just sharing information with citizens, governments should involve them in the conversation, actively solicit their feedback, co-create policies with them, and work to devolve decision making to the communities that a policy will affect.

To me, vibrancy implies movement - a coming together of people to create something new and better than before. Even if the solutions aren't readily appararent and improvements don't materialize right away, a sense of vibrancy could be restored simply by giving people a voice and a sense of ownership over the future of their communities.

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Really looking forward to reading your thesis! Thank you for putting it up!

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That's so nice, thank you!