local communities | MIT Center for Civic Media

People in local geographic areas may need help communicating with each other in order to collaborate in building and sustaining healthy communities. Grassroots action at any level - neighborhoods, towns, or cities - can help improve local services, welcome newcomers, and develop cultural, economic and political capital.

Distributed solidarity: how 350.org creates an intimate global movement

Nathan Matias and I recently spoke to a few staffers from 350, a global climate movement organization. Especially worthy of your attention are the concept of “distributed solidarity,” making that solidarity visible to participants and—to Civic—a sort of tightrope between professional and citizen footage. This post is for background; jump over to Nathan's post for some technically based civic ideas.

Video: Andrew Lowenthal, "EngageMedia: Video4Change"

EngageMedia is a citizen video sharing platform, as well as a training, network development, software and research project based in Southeast Asia and Australia.

We welcomed Andrew Lowenthal, co-founder and Executive Director, who outlined EngageMedia's work, focusing on the nature of scaling, in particular developing strategic networks and open source software, and their implications and limitations in creating civic media today.

Becky was able to liveblog our Q&A bit of Lowenthal's talk. He also visited the Introduction to Civic Media class (notes, thanks to Rogelio) and the Berkman Center (notes, thanks to Nathan and Sasha).

3 Reasons MoveOn Put Members in Charge

MoveOn.org is already one of the more transparent, membership-driven political organizations this world has seen. Their local councils and rolling membership surveys drive the hive's priorities. This week, Justin Ruben announced that they were going one leap further, and "turning over the keys of our technological toolset to our more than 7 million members, asking them to step up and lead their own campaigns, and putting them squarely in the MoveOn driver's seat."

This is big. Here's why:

HurricaneHackers in Boston - Sandy hackathon projects, lessons learned

Written with Pablo Rey Mazón

A day before Hurricane Sandy touched down, netizens began to congregate via etherpads, Google Docs and IRC, assuming the name “HurricaneHackers.”

HurricaneHackers teamed up with Sandy CrisisCamps—a series of hackathons organized by CrisisCommons around the world—to host a hackathon at MIT Media Lab. About 30 participants worked together throughout the day to figure out how a remote set of volunteers could support Sandy relief with communication technologies.

Pablo and Denise were the main facilitators for the hackathon. With Pablo’s experience organizing OccupyData hackathons and Denise’s participation in hackathons, we knew that a common gathering place is powerful for imaginative and holistic thinking, and to matchmake that thinking with real world needs.

Mapping the Globe

Mapping the Globe is an interactive tool and map that helps us understand where the Boston Globe directs its attention. Media attention matters–in quantity and quality. It helps determine what we talk about as a public and how we talk about it.

Codesign Studio

Involving communities in the design process results in products more responsive to a community's needs, more suited to accessibility and usability concerns, and easier to adopt.

The Question Campaign: 21 Days of questions, 365 Days of action.

The Question Campaign, http://21dayscambridge.org/, launched in the City of Cambridge on Weds Oct 17 as part of the Cambridge Campaign Against Domestic Violence. For the next 21 Days, the Question Campaign will ask for people in Cambridge to donate their questions about Domestic Violence. Following that, through a series of public processes, the campaign partners and Cambridge residents will identify common questions and work towards local policy and service provision that responds to these questions.

Vojo Community Call - Placing Vojo content on your sites using RSS feeds

We had our second Vojo Community Call on Tues Oct 16. The agenda included introductions from 3 of our community groups and a hands-on demonstration of how to locate feed addresses for Vojo groups and Vojo tags. We followed that with a screenshared demo of how these feeds can be integrated into Drupal’s native RSS feed aggregator and a Wordpress plugin that we have found works well with Vojo feeds. The following is a recap of the introductions and some of the call activities.

For more info about this call:

Resources for Civic Mapping: Toolkits and How-Tos

Some toolkits and how-tos for the CivicMaps Toolkit research file.

Title: Envisioning Development toolkits
Description: A set of 3 toolkits developed by the Center for Urban Pedagogy in NYC: Affordable Housing, Zoning, and Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (last two are in progress). All 3 relate to specific NYC policies. Affordable Housing toolkit includes a guidebook ("first-ever illustrated compendium of NYC affordable housing programs", freely downloadable or puchaseable in book form), a felt chart for comparing and explaining affordable housing policies (purchaseable?), and an online map showing income demographics and rents in NYC.
External link: http://envisioningdevelopment.net/
Location: New York, NY 40.7142° N, 74.0064° W
Name of organization: Center for Urban Pedagogy
Category: toolkit and downloadable pdf guidebook
Tags: community organizing, policy, advocacy, analog

Designing Urban Food Systems in Shanghai

I've joined the Media Lab's Changing Places group for a week in China to design the future of sustainable cities in Shanghai.

China presents enormous challenges and huge opportunities, all at a dizzying scale. 300 million Chinese, the population of the entire United States, will move to urban areas over the next 20 years. 20 of the world's 30 most polluted cities are in China. Only 1% of China's 600 million urban residents have access to clean air, as measured by EU standards. Anyone serious about climate change, human welfare, and other challenges of the 21st century must consider China's role.