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Sue Braiden

Chief Adventure Diva, Adventures With the Estrogen Army

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What are the best tools for fostering citizen-led urban innovation, making it easy to identify needs, solve problems and share knowledge?

I live in a dying city. I want to do something about that.

More importantly, I'm interested in helping create a citizen-directed effort to:
• identify needs,
• solve problems, and
• share knowledge.

I'd like to help create an innovation launchpad that allows everyday people to work together through these 3 activities in a way that has a meaningful impact on social and economic problems in our city.

I recognize the power of simple technologies to fuel broad collaboration that makes it easier to look at other communities and ask:

• what works?
• how can we make that work here?

When I moved here I was lucky enough to be part of our current mayor's campaign team. Part of my job was to look for ways of integrating tools and services, like Baltimore's 311/CityStat, which have radically changed the way government services are tracked, deployed, and made more efficient, transparent and accountable. They make it easier for citizens to access services and add value, but are not really designed to put them in the driver's seat as the real innovators in creating healthier, more resilient communities.

I am interested in finding similarly simple and innovative tools that make citizen-directed community-building possible.

In particular, I am interested in these types of tools:
• discovery tools (things that make it easy to find what's working in other communities),
• collaboration tools (things that make it easy to work together to solve problems and share resources), and,
• broadcasting tools (things that make it easy to share what works more broadly).

Hence, the question:

What are the best tools for fostering citizen-led urban innovation, making it easy to identify needs, solve problems and share knowledge?

Thanks so very much for any insights and resources you are willing to share!

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    Jun 22 2012: Thank you so much for taking the time to share such valuable resources with me! Several of these already look like potential springboards into a local effort with a lot of global national allies.

    RH, I have to admit it never occurred to me that Michigan would have this kind of potential. As you pointed out, I live just across the pond from Detroit, which is fraught with so many social and economic challenges it's hard to know where to start. I sat at the table with their city planning team when they were also looking at the CityStat/311 model, and recognize they may still be an ally in a more citizen-directed kind of engagement. I'll definitely take your advice and look deeper into the resources the state at large may have to offer regarding tools for engaging a broader participation on community revival.

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