Welcome onboard the Civic Forum! I see you’re a bit early to the party, sorry that the place is a bit of a mess…since you’re already here, want to help us set things up?
Only half joking. Fact is we haven’t even “officially” launched yet. We’ve only invited the really awesome people we knew to our little project, and told them to only invite the really awesome people they know. By induction, you must be really cool, so we’re excited to have you
We started with a simple question. Why does the phenomenon illustrated below happen?
Why are the people who actually solve problems such a tiny fraction of all the people who want to solve them? There are two common answers. One, maybe people actually don’t really care as much as they claim. Two, you have to be super special to be able to solve problems in society, and most people aren’t.
We knew both these answers weren’t quite right.
Imagine you had to learn to play the piano, but with a twist. You’re not allowed to:
(a ) listen to the works of Beethoven or Mozart or Chopin or any another composer
(b) have access to any material about music theory
(c ) speak to any other student also learning music
(d) get any kind of feedback from a teacher
You just have to bang on the keys until you figured it out yourself. Would you be able to produce some sort of pleasant sound? Maybe. Are you likely to compose a masterpiece? Unlikely.
Yet, these are the insane conditions under which most citizens are expected to participate in our society. We don’t systematically pass on the learnings of those who have successfully engaged before. There is no storehouse of reusable solutions, so everyone has to keep re-inventing the wheel. The laws that set the rules for what we can do are obscure and inaccessible. And the people who are in a position to guide us are often inaccessible.
The first order of business then? Let’s get systematic.
Let’s try and get all the people we know who’ve successfully changed their society for the better, in big ways or small, to share how they did it. Step by step, no detail too small to be irrelevant.
Let’s get the builders to share their solutions: code, blueprints, how-tos. We’ll take all of it.
Let’s get the policy geeks to break down the local laws for the rest of us, so we all know what the rules we’re playing under are.
Let’s get the experts and the powerful in one place so we can ask them questions.
Let’s get info out of people’s heads and local computers and private books, and out in the open where we can all engage with it.
Mission Zero is only the first step. We have big plans, but we need a strong foundation first. That’s why we’re still in stealth mode, quietly working to collect a great repository of information until we’re ready to launch.
Here’s how you can be a part of this:
- Write for one of our 3 sections: Policy, Citizen Engagement, Solutions
- Share the forum with people who have something to contribute, and ask them to make a post.
- Volunteer as a moderator and help maintain our sitewide standards
- Do design work and UX work to make the site more useable and beautiful
- Literally anything else you think will help
Once again, welcome to the party! Hope you’ll join us as one of the hosts.