THE NEW “BE ALL THAT YOU CAN BE”

Back in May of this year there was an announcement on The White House blog titled “Wanted: A Few Good Women and Men to Serve as Presidential Innovation Fellows.” Seven months later, 40 people have been named team members of this new initiative.

The announcement said it was looking to bring in innovators from outside the government to collaborate with our federal innovators on five projects that will make big waves in the wellbeing of our country. The idea, according to the site, is to combine the “know-how of citizen change agents and government change agents in small, agile teams that move at high speed, these projects aim to deliver significant results within six months.” (more…)

WASHINGTON, Didn’t Change (D.C.)

Presidential and congressional candidates, SuperPACs and puny PACs and national and state parties have spent massive amounts of time and treasure with the promise of bringing you change this past Tuesday. So, what did we get? Not so much change.

Same president. Same house majority. Same senate majority. In other words, the same promise of gridlock.

So what will change? (more…)

BIG DOLLARS = BIG POLITICAL GUNS

Try as I might, I can’t help myself. I’m compelled to comment on the enormous increase in campaign spending in 2012; growth well over what was already an enormous amount in 2010. It’s easy to make the case that this burgeoning bag of cash is due to the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizen’s United v. The Federal Elections Commission. And it’s easy to see that this multi-billion dollar political industry has been blessedly exempt from this recession. Yes, regardless of your political stripes you can rest well knowing that there are special interests paying their bills quite comfortably by weaponizing our political dialogue. You can do that with a multi-billion dollar political industry, you know.  You can buy a lot of ear and eyeball time with that kind of dough. You can also divert billions of dollars from other industries. Ask those working in non-profits, social services and the arts. (more…)

THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INNOVATION?

This isn’t just another “Look at what we just did on Mars!” post. Well ok, it’s a little bit of that.  But there’s something more out there, something that goes beyond this single achievement. Or for that matter, beyond all the accomplishments that led to a successful journey through “Seven Minutes of Terror” as NASA engineers referred to last week’s feat. NASA, a federal government agency, has pulled off some seismic innovations over the years and led to thousands of innovations and activities in the public sector. From Velcro to recently privatized shuttle services, the track record is certainly there but for some reason we usually don’t think of our government as a fount of forward thinking and innovative achievement.  (more…)

THE CITIZEN PRO/AM

Like many of my blogs, today’s post was inspired by a compelling article I recently read. It’s called Democracy is for Amateurs: Why We Need More Citizen Citizens, and it really speaks to the Naked Civics philosophy. Let me start off by sharing the last sentence in that piece:  “It’s time to democratize democracy again.” (more…)

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…)

GREEN PACKAGING: THE LATEST TREND OR THE NEW SOCIAL NORM?

The trend is clear: increasingly, consumers are attracted to green packaging. It makes them feel better about purchases and provides them with the satisfaction that they’re making progress towards a cleaner, greener world. But there’s a bit of a paradox at work here.  The fact of the matter is that eco-friendly packaging is a bit more costly than “regular” packaging, and most consumers don’t think it’s their responsibility to pay its escalated price. (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…)