Civicist: Testing Tech for Consensus in a Purple Town

How a radical experiment in participatory democracy came to Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Over the past year, town halls across America have occasionally erupted over hot button issues like health care reform. Rep. Tom MacArthur was shouted down during a five-hour meeting in New Jersey last May; later that summer, a Californian said they hoped Rep. Doug LaMalfa would “die in pain”; and Rep. Ron Blum was called a liar by a prescreened audience in Iowa. A town hall in Bowling Green, Kentucky, last month had none of the shouting or vitriol that made those events national news, but it was the site of something even more elusive: the search for consensus in an increasingly divided nation. Read more…

Civicist: Merced County Participatory Budgeting Process Hits Snag, Plows Ahead

At the end of the month, an elected official in Merced County, California, will lead her district in the first implementation of participatory budgeting at the county level—but unless her fellow supervisors can be persuaded to see the value of the process, it could very well be this county’s last, too. Read more…

Civicist: How Scientist-Activists Persuaded Their Peers to March

The March for Science in April was a coup for organizers: 600 marches around the world; an estimated 1.3 million marchers; and more than 300 organizational partners, from the Paleontological Society to the Center for Biological Diversity to the Consortium of Social Science Associations. But for one of the organizers, the biggest coup was finding the right messaging to unite a group of people and organizations famously allergic to the appearance of partiality. Read more…

Civicist: Coding for a World Run by Liquid Democracy, Powered by Blockchains

What a time to think outside the nation-state, as North Korea taunts “American bastards” with intercontinental ballistic missiles; as the Trump administration escalates immigration arrests to an unprecedented rate; as migrants and refugees pour into Central and Eastern Europe; as the United Kingdom trudges towards Brexit. It is a time to long for an alternative government, and to despair of one. Read more…