July 3, 2012

Online Town Hall Lets Residents Improve Their Own Neighborhood Without Leaving the Couch

A FEW years ago, Omaha urban planners Nick Bowden and Nathan Preheim arrived at a conclusion that has haunted anyone who has ever sat through a four-hour plea for a new traffic light: The current model for city planning is broken. "We were doing traditional town hall meetings and nobody showed up to them," Bowden says. People don't have time to sit through an hours-long meeting for a couple minutes at the microphone, the pair thought. And the few who do are often loud, cranky or long-winded - - those views about what towns and cities really need to improve are hardly ever representative. So Bowden and Preheim decided to build a town hall online instead.

Their web-based platform MindMixer is a virtual meetup for citizens and officials to connect, share ideas, and spur the most popular conversations into real action. Since launching in March 2011, more than 200 communities including tech hubs like San Francisco have signed on, paying anywhere from $4,000 to $25,000 a year to subscribe to a homepage where citizens log on to view a blueprint of upcoming city projects - or suggest their own - and then riff on ways those things should work.

Read more here >

Visit SF's MindMixer site here >

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