"Innovation is creativity with a job to do. [J. Emmerling]"
I'm an entrepreneur that sees great opportunities to partner with others to develop tools that improve the knowledge and communication gap between we the citizens and our local governments.
Until now we have been governed by a sincere, very busy, yet firmly one-directional relationship with government. With the advent of the internet as we know it today, and the passage of two decades, my worry is that it will take another couple decades before citizens get what they want out of government - a voice in the process.
I'm speaking from experience. I have a long history of hands-on involvement and have evolved into a focused civic advocate that believes information in the citizen's hands is the key to re-balancing local government. As a teen, I have done silent protests, stood face to face with anarchists ready to pummel me (trembling but, firmly believing my position defending our constitution). In the last decade I have worked on a major local public-safety issue, ballot measure, ordinance-fabrication, and subsequent election. I have served on an advisory board for that issue, as well as having served my local business improvement district board and local town council. I currently sit on a county advisory board and am president of my Rotary Club (Mission Bay). I have gotten involved because I believe civic engagement is not just an activity but, a responsibility.
In the last decade I have stood many a times in front of a microphone for 1-3 minutes each and tried to explain how our city - one of the largest in America - could save money, reduce harms to our citizens, increase relationships between business and government. As a result I've become accustomed to one common sound... crickets.
I am a concerned citizen that in the past few years spent a couple thousand hours on a subject doing research, writing reports, meeting with most stakeholders and the city themselves... explaining the potential of saving potentially ten million dollars - yet be nearly entirely shined on? (see http://SanDiegoALE.com for the latest report.)
I'm not against my government, nor am I complaining about the system. I'm just explaining how I believe it's broken. And how I believe citizens could become more intelligent contributors in deliberations and decisions our governments make. To do that however we need more information. Government obfuscates information, acting as if they are the only ones wise enough to interpret and make decisions. I (obviously :) disagree.
Until we achieve a much closer level of equality, I believe we are a democracy in danger. At the same time and most importantly, I believe that we are a nation of charitable, ethical and practical innovators that want to be better. My hope is to help achieve greater levels of citizen engagement and ultimately success in helping make the world a better place for every American and those we may touch around the world.
The four pillars of our democracy are our constitution, educational system, government and free press. Perhaps we are witnessing an era of the dawning of a fifth pillar - an aware and engaged citizenry, ensuring that the responsibilities of each of these four pillars are being met. Or, perhaps we are a new element in the fourth pillar - citizen journalists and activists replacing the various major media elements that have morphed into political sabotage organizations masked as media.
In any case it's an exciting time to be involved in building our nation. What we do next is the direction our nation will take in the global economy and social marketplace. We have the opportunity to refocus America on helping serve our poor, under-educated and those in need - ultimately continuing our legacy of doing the same around the world. I'm looking forward to working with anyone interested in helping make the world a better place and look forward to meeting you!
I applaud your idea and hope for it's success. America is a horrible example of how to punish and rehabilitate criminals. Our system largely encourages convicts to get bad better, seemingly ideally so they'll not only recividize but, do so sooner.
Exposing inmates to the power of the internet alone could change their lives, much less adding myriad other education programs. There would be a need to teach core browsing and interface skills but, once that is accomplished you've opened the floodgates of opportunity.
What would be awesome is to build a platform where others could develop apps that, once approved by the institutions, could be used to learn anything from using a calculator, balancing a checkbook to reasons to invest in a 401k or college fund for their kids. This could incentivize developers to build tools that fit your framework but, would help inmates learn critical life skills.