Newsletter Tuesday, Dec 17
#1 GOOD TIMES WEEKLY: CIVINOMICS RISING
Last week we were very grateful for the coverage that our company and the Civinomicon initiatives received in the Good Times. Not only were new ideas front and center, but the article totally encapsulated our overarching vision squarely within its local context. Entitled “Civinomics Rising”, the article explores our little “experiment in digital governance” by shining light on some of the key Civinomicon initiatives, including those related to Public Safety, Water, Local Economic Vitality and even Local Election Policy. Appropriately titled, the piece also describes the tremendous surge in membership we have experienced in recent months, concluding our first 8 months online on quite a positive note.
#2 OUR NEW BLOG PAGE
Today, we are proud to announce that our blog has undergone a total facelift, and that our focus has shifted to not only covering local issues and the things we care about, but that we are committed to being thought leaders in the civic space. From guest bloggers to civic momentum, Tipping Point will be a curation of ideas, thoughts, and projects related to civic engagement, both local and beyond.
#3 CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE
Many of you probably remember the first ever televised presidential debate between Nixon and Kennedy (and many of you probably don’t). What was particularly interesting about this event was that the people who watched the debate on television generally thought that Kennedy had won, while those who had listened via radio thought that Nixon had won. The debate is famous for illustrating the fact that the medium by which people get their information really does matter, especially concerning politics. On TV Kennedy looked young a confident, while Nixon had a greater command of the issues, coming off as more informed and experienced to those that heard him speak. Recently the Pew American and Life Project conducted a survey to analyze how people get their civic information now, in the digital age. The results may surprise you. Is there a chance for another Nixon/Kennedy matchup?
#4 A LOOK INTO ESTONIA
You may know of Estonia, a small country in northern Europe, but have you ever heard of “E-stonia?” We call it that because this little country is on the forefront of online civic engagement. Did you know that just under a quarter of the votes cast during the last election in Estonia were cast online? How about the fact the their schools start teaching kids how to program at age 7? Neither did we. Learn more about E-stonia and how this country is single handedly moving the needle in digital governance.
#5 NEW INITIATIVE: INDEPENDENT MAYOR?
A couple of months ago a proposal was tossed around to create an independent mayor for Santa Cruz, who would be elected separately from the rest of the city council. Rather than our current system, in which the mayor is largely a ceremonial position that defers to the city manager, this proposal would make the mayor a full time position. The argument goes that in our current system a lot is expected of the mayor, which was especially true of this past year given the high profile issues of water and public safety, but because of the rather low compensation most mayors are forced to work an additional job. This proposal would create a new position, adequately compensated, so that Santa Cruz would have a mayor who can not only focus exclusively on local government, but is also accountable to the people via direct election. However, there are definite pros and cons to such a shift.
#6 NEW FEATURES & BUG FIXES
Making up for a torporous holiday week, the development team has deployed over a dozen updates into the platform over the last week.
Quite a few bugs have been fixed, a couple which were real looloos.
Following a request from members Rosalie and Michael, date stamps have been added to all published items. We also threw in the count of the number of times items are viewed.
Following up on a request from member Bruce, the site activity RSS feed has been improved. You can see the feed in action on the Cruzio home page, www.cruzio.com, via the Civinomics tab in the news headlines section.
Finally, a new Update feature has been added to Initiatives, which allows initiative authors to post progress reports on the implementation of their initiative.
Upcoming goodies from the developers include support for multiple authors of Initiatives, Workshop and Initiative graphs, reports and stats, and (vastly) improved activity digest emails.
As always, if you have a request for a new feature or want to report a bug or platform faux pas, let us know in the How Can We Improve Civinomics workshop.