CIVIC DESIGN GONE AWRY

When you hear the term “design,” you likely think of things like logos, Photoshop and well-oiled machines. What you likely do not think of is government. But, whether it’s good or bad, our government is a design.  We know the blueprint of our government as the Constitution and Bill of Rights of course.  And lately it would seem that, like so many other institutions in our country, our government is failing us.  But what if it isn’t the design of government, but rather the design of our politics that is to blame?  We’re not used to thinking of politics as separate and apart from our governmental institutions, but separating the two just may lead to a better ability to redesign and make what’s wrong, right while not messing with what’s actually working.   (more…)

URBAN CRIME ON THE DECLINE

According to this article in The Atlantic, crime in America’s urban areas has dropped to the lowest it’s been in 40 years. My initial thought is that in an economy that’s hurting as much as ours, crime and violence would skyrocket. So why is it that now, of all times, crime rate is so low? I personally think it’s the culmination of proactive, forward thinkers and the efforts of urban communities. (more…)

THE FUTURE OF YOUR HIGHER ED DEGREE

Growing up we were all told we could be anything we want, but in order to do so you would need to swing for the fences in middle and high school so that you could reserve a chair in a crowded auditorium of a college or university.  No doubt there is much that remains true in that path and the income disparity between college grads and high school dropouts is a stark reminder of the benefits of being “educated” in our society.  But that said it sure seems like there may be some cracks emerging in the argument that a college degree equals a good paying job. (more…)

TIRED POLITICAL LABELS AND THE WISDOM OF NO LABELS

Tired of tired old political labels?

Then how about joining No Labels? Just over a year ago or so, I started working with a great group of folks with the aim of launching a grassroots initiative for the political center. While Move On! aims its voice at the political left and the Tea Party is gathers its storm on the political right, No Labels intends to speak to the other 60% or so of the country: those people who believe fervently in making the United States a better version of itself, those who act from civic purpose and those who believe that there is wisdom in considering ideas from across the political spectrum. (more…)

GETTING A CLUE

Large institutions, across every sector, don’t seem to be trusted these days. We talk about trusted brands, but we don’t seem to put much trust in them. OK, sometimes we don’t trust them because they really shouldn’t be trusted. I don’t have to call anyone out by name, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be too difficult for you to come up with a few companies, a few politicians, a few religious leaders, etc. who just make you roll your eyes and say, “ick”. But more often that not, we don’t trust institutions because they act like they just don’t have a clue. And not just any clue, but the clue defined by you. (more…)

COMMON SPACES FOR THE COMMON GOOD

We’re going to have to create some new spaces. Some of those should be physical spaces: green spaces, convening spaces, places where we can run into each other. Commons. All good. But we also create space in how we interact with each other. Capitols have become temples of conflict as more and more of the focus is on politics (how we talk at each other) rather than policy (how we’re actually going to live next to each other). Be mindful, this isn’t because capitols are full of bad people because in my experience most of the time quite the opposite is true. (more…)