PBP Announces PBNYC Results and Launches Data Tool

There are some exciting updates from NCDD member org – The Participatory Budgeting Project, who recently completed another successful round of participatory budgeting in NYC (PBNYC) and announced the launch of their new data tool, myPB. Over the last 7 years, the PBNYC process has allowed residents to decide on how to spend $210 million on 706 community projects. As part of a pilot program in NYC, PBP announced their new data tool, myPB, which allows residents to research their districts, find out if PB is in their communities, the status of PB projects, and more. We encourage you to read the post below and find the original version on PBP’s site here.


Participatory Budgeting in NYC: $210 million for 706 community projects

For the 7th straight year, New Yorkers just decided part of the city budget. We’re excited to share the impressive results from 2018 – and a new tool that brings past results of Participatory Budgeting in New York City (PBNYC) to your fingertips!

2018 Vote Results

More than 99,250 residents age 11 and older participated in the largest local civic engagement program in the US, deciding how to spend $36,618,553 across NYC. They developed hundreds of spending proposals and funded 124 community improvement projects for schools, parks, libraries, public housing, streets, and other public spaces.

The impacts of PB are even greater over time. Since 2012, New Yorkers have decided how to spend $210 million on 706 projects. PBNYC has also sparked over $180 million in additional spending on city-wide improvements such as school air conditioning and bathroom repairs.

PB is building the governing power of hundreds of thousands of everyday New Yorkers. As Council Member Carlos Menchaca reflected,“PB isn’t just about choosing winning projects, it is also about creating opportunities for civic participation and building stronger communities. New Yorkers are eager to lead the decision processes on topics that directly affect them.”

For more information on PBNYC Cycle 7 see the full results here and this video of highlights from the results announcement and celebration:

myPB – A New PB Data Tool

We’re thrilled to share not only 2018 vote results, but also a tool – myPB – that we’ve created to keep you updated on the status of projects and the impacts of PB.

Deciding how to spend public dollars through PB can be refreshing and exciting. Implementing the winning projects, however, can be frustratingly slow. Although staff share occasional updates about funded projects on the district level, there is no comprehensive, city-wide view of the status of PB-funded projects.

Now we have an exciting new data tool for tracking PB projects and outcomes: myPB.community. So far it includes all project data through 2017. We’re piloting it in NYC, with plans to include many more cities in the future—maybe yours?

Powered by NYC Open Data, community members can now use their smartphone or computer to:

  • find their district,
  • see if their district has participated—or is participating in—PB,
  • contact their district office,
  • search, sort, and filter PB projects that made it to the ballot
  • share information on PB projects on social media,
  • and see how much money has been allocated to various city agencies and issues.

This award-winning data platform tells lots of stories, revealing city-wide and district-specific priorities.

In June 2018, myPB.community won awards in Mayor’s Civics and Open Data from NYC Open Data, for its use of open data to support civic work, like how policy groups and advocates across the city can use mypb.community to understand community needs.

Sorting projects by category indicates what people prioritize when it comes to improving their city.

Since 2012, the NYC School Construction Authority has implemented an overwhelming majority of PBNYC projects, followed by the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Community groups can get more specific information about needs and priorities in their district, to better advocate for specific neighborhood needs.

For example, of the 982 projects for libraries and schools on NYC ballots since 2012,

  • 236 mention ‘tech’
  • 61 mention ‘library’
  • 56 mention ‘bathroom’
  • 50 mention ‘air conditioning’
  • 41 mention ‘electric’
  • 20 mention ‘security’
  • 13 mention ‘ADA’
  • 11 mention ‘music’
  • 10 mention ‘water’

This breakdown lifts up top priorities for improving schools and libraries across the city.

You can find the original version of this blog post on The Participatory Budgeting Project’s site at www.participatorybudgeting.org/participatory-budgeting-in-nyc/.

Citizen Engagement is Vital Even for Smart Cities

As technology continues to grow and cities shift towards being “smart”, there are some learning opportunities for the ways in which cities go about acquiring data, the ways in which it is used, and the need to still genuinely engage the community. Which is why we wanted to share this piece written by Mary Leong of NCDD member org, PlaceSpeak, about the need for cities to be mindful of the ways in which technology is used when gathering insight on citizens and utilizing the information during city decision-making. She emphasizes the need to use a”citizen-first engagement approach” (as outlined by Meeting of the Minds) and engage the community to get real citizen feedback before implementing these smart city practices. You can find the article below and read the original version on the PlaceSpeak blog here.


No, Your City Can’t be “Smart” Without Citizen Engagement

In a recent piece from our friends at Meeting of the Minds, 4 Strategies to Fix Citizen Engagement, they asked several important questions: “Can a City really be described as ‘Smart’ if it makes changes without consulting with a diverse sample of the citizens affected by these changes before, during, and after projects are implemented? Will citizens adopt Smart Initiatives if they aren’t part of the decision-making process?”

As cities struggle to establish themselves as “smart”, they have rushed to implement IoT (Internet of Things) sensor networks which help to gain insight into the movements and habits of citizens. Sensors are gathering vast amounts of information about how citizens are engaging with their transportation needs, energy use and more – often without their explicit consent. A recent article in the Atlantic asks facetiously, “Why trouble to ask the ‘citizens’ what they want from urban life, when you can accurately surveil the real actions of city’s ‘users’ and decode what they’re actually doing, as opposed to what they vaguely claim they might want to do?”

While it is well-documented that social desirability bias or recall bias can lead respondents to provide inaccurate or false information in surveys or polls, exclusively relying on passive data – as opposed to proactive data collected through robust citizen engagement processes – only tells half the story. The challenge is twofold:

Firstly, it is crucial that smart cities do not become surveillance cities. Out of 52 agencies in the United States which use facial recognition, “only one…expressly prohibits its officers from using face recognition to track individuals engaging in political, religious, or other protected free speech,” found a report from Georgetown Law. Recent revelations from the ACLU also revealed that companies such as Amazon are actively marketing facial recognition technology to governments as an “easy and accurate” way to investigate and monitor “people of interest” – including undocumented immigrants, Black Lives Matter activists, or citizens exercising their right to protest. This unprecedented ability to surveil without accountability should be concerning to anyone with an interest in civic participation.

Secondly, the implementation of smart city technologies should incorporate citizen feedback and concerns. People are justifiably concerned about privacy issues – particularly individuals from groups or communities which may be disproportionately targeted. Furthermore, people are often unable to opt out, which can be a cause for concern for some. Just like with any large-scale initiative or project, it’s a lot harder to deal with the fallout from citizens after the decisions have been made – especially when large amounts of money have already been spent on infrastructure or technologies. In order to truly realize the potential of a “smart city”, decision-makers must include citizens in the decision to implement smart city solutions. By including the public in co-creating (“build with, not for”) and deciding on solutions that are appropriate for each community, they can be tailored to local unique challenges and needs.

The solutions highlighted in Meeting of the Minds call for a “citizen-first engagement approach”, with four factors:

  • Utilize mobile
  • Remove the burden for citizens
  • Consider offering rewards
  • Go beyond survey responses

We agree that these factors are necessary for invigorating smart cities everywhere and inspiring people to participate – while challenging decision-makers to go above and beyond. Instead of one-off online surveys or public meetings, online civic networks notify and keep people engaged on an ongoing basis. In contrast to social networks, where people are empowered to connect with like-minded individuals all across the world, civic networks are tied to place-based communities, such as streets, neighborhoods, schools, stratas/homeowner associations and more. By creating a central “hub” for citizens to engage continually with decision-makers and fellow community members, PlaceSpeak makes online democratic participation easy, convenient and habit-forming.

You can find the original version of this article on PlaceSpeak blog at www.blog.placespeak.com/your-city-cant-be-smart-without-citizen-engagement/.

Listen to the Tech Tuesday Recording Featuring Mismatch

In case you missed it, we had another excellent Tech Tuesday last week featuring Mismatch, a creation of Allsides! Over 50 participants joined the call to learn more about this engaging platform that seeks to match people of diverse perspectives through video conferencing. This was a great opportunity to learn how this platform has been utilized in schools and the ways in which it has already transformed peoples’ lives. We strongly encourage you to check out the recording of the call to learn more about it!

On the call, John Gable and Jaymee Copenhaver of Allsides started off the conversation by sharing how polarization has shifted here in the US and that our country has never been as polarized as it is now. They pointed out the dangerous combination of the 24 hr news cycle, massive polarization, and increasing tendency for people to live in bubbles has people more extreme in their beliefs and significantly less tolerant.

Mismatch helps to address this because it connects classrooms across the country via video conferencing and allows students to hear from someone different from themselves. And they had some phenomenal results! Many of the students who participated found their nervousness was dramatically reduced afterward and 92% said they better understood the other person better. John and Jaymee shared the future goals for the platform; while it is currently being utilized in schools, they hope to expand its reach to libraries, orgs in the D&D field, and ultimately the broader world.

Some of our favorite quotes during the Tech Tuesday:

  • “We generally only see one POV, at Allsides they seek to empower the reader and show different points of view, so people can make their own decisions.”
  • “After talking with their match, students asked if they had been matched with someone “different” (Yes, they had) and found that they had more in common than they previously thought they would.”
  • “If we can have people meet each other, coming from diverse perspectives, and actually talk with each other – this is when we can change the course of history.”
  • “When you look at the tipping point, you really need about 5% to participate, have these transformative experiences, to really change things.”

We recorded the whole presentation if you were unable to join us, which you can access on the archives page here. We had several insightful contributions to the chat, which you can find the transcript of here. Access to the archives is a benefit of being an NCDD member, so make sure your membership is up-to-date (or click here to join).

Tech_Tuesday_Badge

Big thank you to John, Jaymee, and everyone who joined us on this informative call! We encourage you to check out the TechTues recording and learn more about Mismatch at www.mismatch.org/. To learn more about NCDD’s Tech Tuesday series and hear recordings of past calls, please visit www.ncdd.org/tech-tuesdays.

Finally, we love holding these events and we want to continue to elevate the work of our field with Confab Calls and Tech Tuesdays. It is through your generous contributions to NCDD that we can keep doing this work! That’s why we want to encourage you to support NCDD by making a donation or becoming an NCDD member today (you can also renew your membership by clicking here). Thank you!

Participedia.net Hosts Democratic Learning Webinar Series

NCDD is excited to share one of our partner organizations, Participedia.net has recently announced their first ever webinar series on Democratic Teaching and Learning starting in June. This free four-part series is open to anyone and will be a great opportunity to connect with Participedia researchers and collaborators around participatory democracy. We are proud to see many folks from the NCDD network collaborating on the sessions and we encourage you to register at the link below! Read the webinar schedule in the post and find the original on Participedia.net’s site here.


Democratic Teaching and Learning: A Webinar Series

Participedia proudly presents its first webinar series on Democratic Teaching and Learning, developed by Co-Chairs of our Teaching, Training and Mentoring Committee, Drs. Joanna Ashworth & Bettina von Lieres! Open to anyone interested in the field, this four-part webinar series will connect Participedia researchers and collaborators with shared interests in teaching methods, theories, and cases that support democratic participation. Join us and our rotating panel of experts for a lively exchange of knowledge about challenges and successes in the evolving field of participatory democratic innovations.

Schedule:

Session One – 8 am Pacific Time June 6, 2018
Participedia.net Teaching and Learning from Cases

Graham Smith (Westminster University) and Tina Nabatchi, (Syracuse University)
Moderator: Bettina von Lieres (University of Toronto).

  • What and How Do We Teach Using Participedia.net? Questions, Cases, and Opportunities?

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR SESSION 1

Session Two – 8 am Pacific Time September 26, 2018
Understanding the Practice of Democratic Pedagogy

Tim Shaffer  (Kansas State University), Bettina von Lieres (University of Toronto).
Moderator: Joanna Ashworth (Simon Fraser University)

  • What is Democratic Pedagogy? Schools of Thought and Practice in Canada, US, UK and Beyond

Session Three – 8 am Pacific Time October 31, 2018
TITLE TBC What Works: Coaching and Mentoring Professionals in the Uses and Research of Public Participation.

Matt Leighninger (Public Agenda) and Julien Landry (Coady International Institute).
Moderator: Joanna Ashworth

  • Insights into working with seasoned and mid-career professionals from the public sector, NGOs and more.

Session Four – 8 am Pacific Time November 28, 2018
The Global Context of Participation

Lawrence Piper, (University of the Western Cape), John Gaventa (Institute of Development Studies) and Archon Fung (Harvard Kennedy School; Co-Founder Participedia).
Moderator: Bettina Von Lieres (University of Toronto).

  • How context shapes the teaching of democratic pedagogies: Reflections on Politics, conflict and power in South Africa, the Philippines and Beyond

Save the Date:
RSVP on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.ca/o/participedianet-17316087019
RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Participedia/events/

You can find the original version of this announcement on Participedia.net’s site at www.participedia.net/en/news/2018/05/21/democratic-teaching-and-learning-webinar-series.

Reminder to Join Tomorrow’s Tech Tues Feat Mismatch

In case you missed our announcement last week, the next NCDD Tech Tues is tomorrow Tuesday, May 22nd, featuring Mismatch! This FREE call will be from 3 – 4pm Eastern/Noon-1pm Pacific. Don’t miss out – register today to secure your spot!

Mismatch.org connects classrooms across the country via video conferencing and allows students to hear from someone different from themselves. It works like a dating service: teachers fill out some information about their school and area, and they are sent their perfect Mismatch. Students then use a conversation guide to talk one-on-one with students in another classroom. Through these conversations, students learn about how to talk civilly with someone who is different than them as well as important digital literacy skills. Recently, Mismatch was opened up to anyone who wanted to participate during the National Week of Conversation and offered conversations on a variety of different topics.

On this webinar, we will be joined by John Gable and Jaymee Copenhaver from Allsides, who have developed the Mismatch platform. They will introduce us to Mismatch and walk us through how it works, and how it has been used in schools and beyond.

About our presenters:
John Gable is CEO and co-founder of AllSides.com and AllSidesForSchools.org. John has 25 years of technology experience where he was the product manager, team or division lead for a number of iconic products including Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Office, and Checkpoint ZoneAlarm. He co-founded Kavi Corp (web-based collaboration, later sold to High Logic) and previously was a professional political campaigner and executive director in the 1980s working for Bush ’41, Mitch McConnell and the Republican National Committee.

Jaymee Copenhaver is the Partner Director and a writer for AllSides.com. She recently completed a year-long Media and Journalism fellowship with the Charles Koch Institute in Arlington, VA and is a December 2016 graduate of the University of Virginia where she studied Government and American Politics.

This will be a great chance to learn more about this engaging platform. Don’t miss out – register today!

Tech Tuesdays are a series of learning events from NCDD focused on technology for engagement. These 1-hour events are designed to help dialogue and deliberation practitioners get a better sense of the online engagement landscape and how they can take advantage of the myriad opportunities available to them. You do not have to be a member of NCDD to participate in our Tech Tuesday learning events.

Sign Up for the Local Civic Challenge Starting in June!

Are you looking to dig deeper into local democracy in your community? We encourage you to sign up for the Local Civic Challenge with NCDD sponsoring org, The Jefferson Center! Starting in June, they will email you every week with a mini-challenge for you to learn more about your community, engaging in your local democracy, and strengthening those civic muscles. Read all about the challenge in the post below and on the JC site here.


Join the Local Civic Challenge!

At long last, the leaves are turning green and the temperatures are rising in Minnesota, signaling that spring has finally sprung. Our team is excited to break out of hibernation, and bring what we’ve learned from our recent projects directly to you! If you’ve ever had an interest in getting more involved in local democracy, but haven’t been clear on where to start, this is the perfect opportunity to dive in.

This June, we’re launching the Local Civic Challenge, where we’ll deliver a weekly newsletter to your inbox filled with mini-challenges that will help you become a more engaged citizen. Here are the four themes:

1. Getting familiar with your town

Do you know if you have a strong or weak mayor system? What about where you should go if you want to share your thoughts on how the local government is working? Learning more about the ins and outs of your community helps people feel empowered to make a difference on local issues.

2. Joining local offices, committees, and boards

Groups like the local school board or neighborhood councils are often in need of volunteer members and leaders. Perhaps even local elected office is in your future?

3. Participating in elections, from campaigns to the voting booth

Maintaining the integrity of our elections is vital to our democracy: why not get more engaged with the process? We’ll provide advice on how to find your voting ward and precinct, register, volunteer at the polls, and more.

4. Supporting local journalism and storytelling

Journalism sometimes ends up on the back burner when we talk about getting involved in our community. But sharing our stories, experiences, and thoughts with one another is a key way we can better understand each other, making it easier to tackle community projects together.

We hope these weekly challenges will give everyone an easy way to stretch out their civic muscles and dip their toes into democracy! If you’re in, sign up here.

You can find the original article on The Jefferson Center’s site at www.jefferson-center.org/join-the-local-civic-challenge/.

Essential Partners on Using Social Media to Talk about Guns

Social media platforms can be a challenging medium to hold conversations, especially around contentious issues like gun access, but like NCDD member Essential Partners recently wrote; it’s possible. EP collaborated with several orgs like Time, Spaceship Media and Advance Local to bring folks together to explore conversations on guns, and they shared their experience on utilizing a closed Facebook group to connect people. We encourage you to read the article below and you can find the original version on Essential Partners site here.


Guns: An American Conversation

The subject of guns in America lends itself to strong emotion and great strife, especially in the face of continued mass shootings. We all wish we could make it stop, but we can’t seem to agree on where to focus. The guns themselves? The troubled souls who carry out these acts of violence? The inconsistent regulation of existing laws? The poor infrastructure for recognizing this danger?

At the end of March, Essential Partners worked with Spaceship Media and Advance Local to bring people from across the country together to talk about guns. John Sarrouf and I traveled to Washington, DC, to facilitate the conversations. At the end of the two-day conversation, that core of 21 people then formed a closed Facebook group with more than 130 members, and continued the dialogue online for the following month.

John and I followed along. We offered behind-the-scenes support to the moderators, who worked 24/7 to help those 130 online conversants share their views in ways that could be understood. We witnessed the yearning for a deeper, richer conversation on this divisive topic, and we learned that while it is possible to have that dialogue in a Facebook group, it doesn’t happen without thoughtful facilitation.

Three things we saw:

  • Online engagement was much stronger if people had one-on-one conversations via phone or even Facebook messenger with someone they disagreed with. Being “known” in this way by even a few individuals in the larger group made a big difference in the ability of participants to hang in during tough interactions. Even moderators had an easier time intervening with people who exhibit challenging communication styles after they had a phone call with them.
  • The 21 participants who had invested a lot of personal time at the outset wanted their own smaller group to reconnect, take a breather, and process the many things happening in the larger group. This was not because they all had the same point of view. It was because they were known and knew each other as well-rounded people in the small group.
  • The online conversation could easily have gone on for months in order to reach the fullness of the issues surrounding guns in this country. The level of attention and strength of relationships needed to sustain a conversation on such a hot topic could span years. At the same time, even within a month, there were productive inroads and proposals surfaced for potential continued work on the issue.

We are continuing this work in the coming months. Stay tuned for updates as we take this conversation on the road.

You can read the full article on Essential Partners site at www.whatisessential.org/blog/guns-american-conversation.

Announcing NCDD’s May Tech Tuesday featuring Mismatch!

NCDD is happy to announce our May Tech Tuesday featuring Mismatch. This FREE event will take place Tuesday, May 22nd from 3:00-4:00pm Eastern/Noon-1:00pm Pacific. Don’t miss out – register today to secure your spot!

Mismatch.org connects classrooms across the country via video conferencing and allows students to hear from someone different from themselves. It works like a dating service: teachers fill out some information about their school and area, and they are sent their perfect Mismatch. Students then use a conversation guide to talk one-on-one with students in another classroom. Through these conversations, students learn about how to talk civilly with someone who is different than them as well as important digital literacy skills. Recently, Mismatch was opened up to anyone who wanted to participate during the National Week of Conversation and offered conversations on a variety of different topics.

On this webinar, we will be joined by John Gable and Jaymee Copenhaver from Allsides, who have developed the Mismatch platform. They will introduce us to Mismatch and walk us through how it works, and how it has been used in schools and beyond.

About our presenters:

John Gable is CEO and co-founder of AllSides.com and AllSidesForSchools.org. John has 25 years of technology experience where he was the product manager, team or division lead for a number of iconic products including Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Office, and Checkpoint ZoneAlarm. He co-founded Kavi Corp (web-based collaboration, later sold to High Logic) and previously was a professional political campaigner and executive director in the 1980s working for Bush ’41, Mitch McConnell and the Republican National Committee.

Jaymee Copenhaver is the Partner Director and a writer for AllSides.com. She recently completed a year-long Media and Journalism fellowship with the Charles Koch Institute in Arlington, VA and is a December 2016 graduate of the University of Virginia where she studied Government and American Politics.

This will be a great chance to learn more about this . Don’t miss out – register today!

Tech Tuesdays are a series of learning events from NCDD focused on technology for engagement. These 1-hour events are designed to help dialogue and deliberation practitioners get a better sense of the online engagement landscape and how they can take advantage of the myriad opportunities available to them. You do not have to be a member of NCDD to participate in our Tech Tuesday learning events.

2018 Brown Medal Awarded to Public Mapping Project

In case you missed it, NCDD member the McCourtney Institute for Democracy recently announced the Public Mapping Project as the winner of the 2018 Brown Democracy Medal. The Public Mapping Project created the open-source software program, District Builder that allows participants to re-draw their congressional maps and has been implemented in Pennsylvania. You can learn more in the article below and find the original on McCourtney Institute’s site here.


Public Mapping Project Wins 2018 Brown Democracy Medal

As conversations about how to stop partisan gerrymandering continue around the country, the work being done by this year’s Brown Democracy Medal winner could not be more timely or more relevant.

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy will award the 2018 Brown Democracy Medal to the Public Mapping Project, an initiative led by Micah Altman, director of research and head of the program on information science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Michael McDonald, associate professor of political science at the University of Florida.

The Public Mapping Project has developed District Builder, an open-source software redistricting application designed to give the public transparent, accessible and easy-to-use online mapping tools. The goal is for all citizens to have access to the same information that legislators use when drawing congressional maps — and use that data to create maps of their own.

“The technological innovation of online redistricting software and especially open-source system provided ordinary people unprecedented access to the tools and data to create legal districts,” Altman and McDonald wrote in their award-winning submission. “This enables what might otherwise be a static quantification of representation to be embedded in a living, democratic, transparent and participative process.”

McCourtney Institute Director Michael Berkman said the Public Mapping Project plays an important role in helping Americans understand redistricting and advocate for a fairer process moving forward.

“This transparency and involvement is the type of democratic engagement and innovation the Brown medal was designed to recognize,” Berkman said.

Draw the Lines PA, a nonpartisan organization that aims to “fix the bug in the operating system of democracy” in Pennsylvania, is using District Builder in its outreach efforts across the state. David Thornburgh of Draw the Lines PA explained how the Public Mapping project has impacted the organization.

“We are using District Builder as a critical building block for this effort. It gives Pennsylvanians in schools, colleges, community groups, faith congregations, and retirement communities the chance to make their voices heard,” Thornburgh wrote in a reference letter. “District Builder and Draw the Lines give the power of data and technology to the real bosses of democracy: current and future voters.”

The McCourtney Institute awards the Brown Democracy Medal annually to honor the best work being done to advance democracy in the United States and internationally. As part of the award, Altman and McDonald will present a public lecture at University Park this November and record an episode of the Institute’s Democracy Works podcast.

The award is named for Larry and Lynne Brown. Lynne Brown graduated from Penn State in 1972 with a degree in education. Larry Brown is a 1971 history graduate and currently chairs the McCourtney Institute’s Board of Visitors.

For more information about the Public Mapping Project, visit publicmapping.org.

You can find the original version of this article on McCourtney’s site at http://sociology.la.psu.edu/DIINST/news-events/public-mapping-project-wins-2018-brown-democracy-medal.