What could be more authentic than average citizens enacting public policy on a micro-scale? In her recent TED Talk, Jennifer Pahlka talks about a fellowship she organized to bring tech-savvy individuals into city government to develop apps and websites that orchestrate neighborhood improvement policies. Getting citizens involved in government is usually difficult and tedious, but Pahlka argues that when public issues are managed through crowd-sourcing, technology-based infrastructure, getting average citizens involved would be a seamless process. For example, the Adopt a Hydrant App allows people to name fire hydrants if they promise to dig them out of snow drifts in the winter. If they fail to do so, someone else can claim the hydrant in a fun, game-like manner a la mayorships in the outrageously successful smart phone app Foursquare. By making public improvement policies viral, they can be integrated organically into our techy, modern society.
Check out the TED Talk here:
At a different level, Russia-based group Partizaning engages in guerrilla planning efforts that are artistic and emotional. The Urban Medic project involved activists placing bloody bandages on worn-out, urban objects like old trashcans and broken benches. The artistic statement personified these objects as if they were calling out to be helped. Whether or not anyone at the civic or public level acted on amending these issues is unknown, but the statement was powerful nonetheless. Another project called Automobile Interventions involved setting up car-shaped tents in parking spaces to criticize the amount of space allotted to the most inefficient mode of urban transport, cars.
Check out more of the activist projects on the website: