What if local leaders and activists could browse a directory of local businesses willing to host fundraisers to solve specific problems in their neighborhood? (e.g.: Sophia's Cafe offers 25% of one day's profit toward Jim improving a local park)
TEDActive conference organizers encouraged a large group of strangers to interact by handing out picnic baskets with 5 full lunches in them. What type of urban elements could similarly inspire social interaction in our cities?
The concept is great. I have thought about this a lot and have some psychological insights on how to really structure it.
One huge problem I see with typical town hall meetings is with how boring they can be when discussion is circling an issue you don't care about too much. If there were som eway to solve this, it could be critical.
For instance, if certain tables had specific themes, with "inspirations" on it (newspaper articles and other media), then perhaps you could attract like-minded people to work together on specific issues they care about without having to sit through everything else.
There's a lot here, but I think taking a really informed approach, using ideas from the study of human social behaviour and attention/engagement, could make this thing ACTUALLY work (as opposed to being an idea which looks attractive on paper but doesn't persuade the average person to actually engage).
Another potential direction could be to couple the program with musical performers, mixed media virtuosos, and other local artists.
Thanks for the comment Arjan. I will add those inspirations to the concept!
Getting businesses involved is always the hard part. But with franchises and international brands coming into small neighborhoods, I feel like local businesses will have a serious motivation to get their neighbors into their establishments.