public involvement

Streetsblog Success

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Streetsblog San Francisco shows its political clout! from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

I wrote earlier this week about Betaville, a SimCity-like “game” that acts like an urban planning wiki.  I wrote a while ago about the town of Cary, North Carolina and their Virtual Interactive Planner (“VIP”) tool.  Both of these solutions attempt to solve the problem of public participation in planning, deliberately.

Streetsblog, who I’ve probably referenced before but never written about exclusively, is an entirely different solution, and I think it solves the same problem (and others) better.  Streetsblog is a collection of blogs from all over the US and abroad, each focusing on “transportation policy goodness.”  Its purpose is not singly to involve the public or to gather ideas.  Rather, all it really is is an amazing collection of up-to-date information.

However, it has become much more than that.  In San Francisco, Supervisor Eric Mar gets his information first from Streetsblog, not from within City Hall.  Community members and activists from all sides of transportation debates comment with gusto (this article got 26 comments in about a day).  So, without even trying to, Streetsblog has become more than a deliverer of information.  It has become a producer of information, ideas, and conversation that serve both to educate the public and inform public officials.

It’s a great use of blogging technology that has helped stimulate productive conversations between everyday citizens, activists, and representatives in San Francisco.  It’s probably doing the same thing in your city, too.

­­-Terra Curtis