Building big tent democracy

Photo: Luke Fretwell
Photo: Luke Fretwell

We started CivicMakers for one simple reason–to connect passionate citizens who are building a better democracy in our communities, workplaces and political institutions.

From civic engagement platforms like DemocracyOS and Neighborland, to the spread of participatory budgeting programs from New York City to Vallejo, California, we’re excited and inspired by a new movement for a 21st century democracy that is sprouting up all around us.

It’s been our mission to support this movement by providing a space for it to continue to flourish. In eight short months, we’ve done just that by hosting seven events for nearly 1,000 citizens from San Francisco to New York City.

One trend we’ve seen is that the “civic tech” movement, despite incredible passion and demonstrated success, stands apart from the broader tech sector. Millennials, for example, are flocking to social enterprise because of their inclination for impact, but many are unaware of the huge opportunity for impact in the civic tech space. Ditto for those in the “social good” space, who either haven’t heard of civic tech, or, if they have, don’t know how to plug in to hackathons, Github, open source, etc.

The time is now to build a “big tent for democracy”–a strong, broad-yet-deep community of citizens of all stripes and vocations who are dedicated to democracy in the many contexts of our society.

We are in the early stages of erecting the scaffolding for this tent, a platform to connect “democracy practitioners” who need solutions and implementation guidance for their projects (e.g., nonprofits, local agencies, benefit corporations, community organizations, etc.) with “civic tech developers” who are looking for users and clients for their products. We envision this platform as a knowledge base that supports citizens who are creating, implementing, and reporting back on their experiments in building a better democracy, whatever the context.

Sound cool?

We think so, but we want to hear from you. We’ve posted a short survey, and your candid feedback will help us identify the missing gaps in the successful discovery, adoption and implementation of the growing number of civic tech and collective governance tools available.

Your insight and experience is invaluable as we work with the civic tech community to build a big tent for the growing network of citizens that together are making democracy a reality.

Take the civic tech survey.

About Lawrence Grodeska

Lawrence Grodeska (@grodeska) is a marketer, futurist and civic geek dedicated to the well-being of all his fellow crew members of Spaceship Earth. As Senior Product Manager at Accela, Lawrence is building apps that are transforming how citizens interact with their communities and local governments. Lawrence is the co-founder of the democracy and technology community CivicMakers.

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