We are always looking at new ways of solving civic issues through 21st century tech. Over the years, our team has built, tested, and researched multiple projects, all with the same goal of helping citizens become more engaged and involved in their community.
DemocracyLab was founded around specific ideas relating to the framing and deliberation of issues. In creating our online engagement platform, there are a number of key relationships we defined:
Individuals can be members of many Communities.
Communities are faced with many Issues.
Issues can be understood by engaging individuals to answer the following questions:
- Why? Values are the principles and core beliefs that guide our thinking.
- What? Objectives describe the outcomes we would like to accomplish.
- How? Policies are the plans of action we would like to see implemented.
By illuminating the connections between the values, objectives, and policies that describe a community's view of an issue, we create a dynamic map of political thought, helping us to discover consensus where it exists, and when it doesn't, to focus deliberation productively at the point of disagreement. We believe this will lead to better decision-making and outcomes for adopting communities
We built several iterations of this idea, which are described below. The hypothesis these projects were based on is that if people are given the opportunity to express their priorities in a structured way that reveals points of commonality, that centrist, incremental solutions to problems will emerge.
These projects achieved inadequate traction to fully test our hypothesis.
Watch the video below for a demonstration of how it works.
You can also try out an earlier implementation of the same idea here, examining Oregon's tax system (don't worry if you're not an Oregonian).