Infrastructure for 21st Century Citizenship*
Oregon faces big problems, and new ways of thinking and engaging need to be created to solve them. There is a pressing need for an open source, easy-to-use online platform where Oregonians can raise issues, identify needs, exchange information, offer support and resources, connect with one another, and take action together toward shared solutions that improve our neighborhoods, our communities and our state.
In the face of the magnitude of problems Oregon is facing, it’s fair to ask if it still makes sense to have three separate, largely isolated sectors – for profit, non profit and public – or whether it’s time to develop sector neutral approaches that maximize impact. In their new paper in Stanford Social Innovation Review (Winter 2011), John Kanai and Mark Kramer of FSG (Foundation Strategies Group) posit that large scale social change requires broad cross-sector coordination to achieve what they call collective impact, acknowledging that collaboration among isolated organizations no longer works. In their words, “collective impact initiatives involve a centralized infrastructure, a dedicated staff, and a structured process that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, and mutually reinforcing activities among all participants.”
Communities with healthy social networks are more resilient and capable of effective action than communities that are isolated. Building on its high rates of volunteerism, it is logical that once again Oregon leads among states in innovative ways of engaging and connecting its citizens. Because Oregon’s economic problems are more severe than most other states (but many are projected to join us as economic effects hit them in the future), our state is a good laboratory for experimenting with ways to move forward with strength and zeal.
When this platform goes live, it will provide Oregonians with new opportunties to:
-participate in civic and community life
-increase knowledge sharing and cross pollination of ideas
-work with, learn from and make shared contributions in completing projects with others with different backgrounds and experiences
-connect with Oregonians across geographic, cultural and political divides through civil dialogue in pursuit of actions that improve communities and connect them statewide
-more effectively engage as volunteers in coordinated actions
-replicate successful local solutions
-develop a greater sense of individual responsibility and community ownership
-connect to the pulse of the community
The activities and projects that take place through the platform will be public, open and transparent.
A Certified Financial Planner and pension consultant by day, Mark scratches his philanthropic itch by bootstrapping DemocracyLab – a venture philanthropy project aiming to use open source software and principles to transform the nature of political dialogue.