Raise Your Voice wants to help citizens better engage with legislators

Raise Your VoiceRaise Your Voice founder Dan Busse shares how his new civic venture wants to change the way citizens and legislators engage with one another.

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

We are a tool, placed in online news and blogs, that promotes open dialogue between citizens and legislators in response to current issues.

What problem does Raise Your Voice solve for government?

By enabling average people to quickly and easily voice their opinions to their elected officials – from the news, when they’re most inspired – officials get a larger sampling and a better, unfiltered understanding of how their constituents feel.

What’s the story behind starting Raise Your Voice?

I conceived Raise Your Voice during the debates on health care reform. As an Emergency Physician, I grew increasingly frustrated watching the town hall meetings, well meaning attempts at open dialogue, were hijacked by special interests and degenerated into shouting matches. It became clear to me that there were too many layers – pundits, interest groups, and media, between people and their elected officials, so I designed Raise Your Voice to give the average citizen direct and easy access. I placed it in online news, because that’s where people are most inspired to act. We got some small funding and launched in November 2011.

What are its key features?

Our main attribute is that, in being placed in online news and blogs, we make ourselves available when people are the most inspired about current issues (who hasn’t yelled at the news?).

Other key features include:

  • an address book that includes federal, state, local, and county officials (since all politics is local)
  • a “widget configurator” that allows people to generate and download the javascript code to place our button on their sites
  • the ability to share their communications throughout their social networks
  • we are working on integrating an advocacy platform, so people writing about an issue can see other groups working in their area (i.e. I write about logging and the spotted owl then see links to the Sierra Club and Wilderness Society sites)
  • we have a multitude of features we are working on to make interaction easier; all aimed at opening up government.

What are the costs, pricing plans?

We are free.

How can those interested connect with you?

Luke Fretwell is the founder of the civic innovation and technology blog GovFresh. He advises civic leaders and businesses on how to best leverage digital strategies to create more effective, collaborative governments. He has written about government IT for Federal Computer Week, NextGov, FedScoop, StateScoop and FierceGovernment, and has been referenced by the Washington Post and Fast Company on civic technology issues. He has worked with a number of government-focused companies and media, including CivicActions, NuCivic and FedScoop and has been involved in broad-focused community efforts, such as GovPress, CityCamp, CivicMeet, Agile Government Leadership and Open Source for America. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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