Give A Minute Chicago Follow-Up

When Give a Minute launched in Chicago back in November, I asked what impact participants would have.

This recent article in Fast Company’s Co.Design seems to confirm my doubts: Looking for Bold Ideas to Fix the City, New York Turns to Crowd Sourcing

In Chicago, the project, which ran from the end of November through mid-December, generated more than 2,000 new ideas. But the mechanism for linking these ideas with actual action groups or agendas was not yet in place. In that sense, the New York project will be “Give a Minute 2.0″ — in which the infrastructure for actually addressing problems will be built into the platform.

Not only was there no capability yet for participants to link up, it doesn’t seem like their input made it in front of decision makers at all (assuming that was the goal of the exercise).

The screenshots shown in the Co.Design article now hint at some of the functionality that was still missing during the Chicago project (mainly, the ability for participants to join so-called action groups).

Give a Minute‘s New York edition is said to launch “in late April or early May”. According to the article, ideas will be “funneled to organizers in city government who will connect people with similar ideas to action groups organized around potential solutions.”

The project appears to have garnered the support of Mayor Bloomberg, who “plans to use Give a Minute to surface innovative ideas from citizens and give them a platform for organizing to turn their ideas into action.”

If you look carefully for any commitments regarding the impact participants will have on City decision making, there isn’t any. To me, what this translates to is this: The City will provide participants with a venue to connect around ideas, but participants will be on their own to figure out if and how their ideas can be realized.

If that’s the case, maybe Give a Minute is an effort that more accurately belongs in the civic engagement category, not the public participation category.

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