llegal Mountain Biking at UCSC, Civinomics for Education, New Blogs and More from Civinomics!


For those of you who don’t know, UCSC’s upper campus is home to some of the most pristine, enjoyable, challenging, adrenaline pumping, gnarly, and most of all, illegal mountain biking trails in California. Specifically, in an area labeled as a natural preserve, only to be used for education and research, mountain bikers have created a vast network of trails that present both a hazard for local wildlife and significantly increase the potential for erosion. However, as many mountain bikers will attest, their intention has never been to harm the natural environment, and in fact, mountain biking as a whole helps bring people closer to nature. Yet for the past decade or so, the illegal use of these trails has increased, unchecked by any enforcement, to such an extent that some in the community began to feel uneasy.

The situation finally came to a head last Thursday, during an open forum about the topic put on by Hilltromper, Stevenson College Residential Life, and Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz. Civinomics’s own Esther Kim was there as well, and documented her feelings in a new blog post. From what she describes, the mood in the room was tepid to begin with, but as the night wore on it became obvious that most everyone believed that some form of compromise was not only possible, but readily tangible. Most mountain bikers value the preservation of the natural environment, and are willing to help mitigate their impact. This includes volunteering time, energy and a willingness to offer new ideas. To this end, we have created a new workshop entitled “How Should We Deal With Illegal Mountain Biking Trails at UCSC?” to provide a space for discussion and to help organize any new ideas people may have.

See the workshop!

Read the blog!


In just the past couple of weeks, multiple teachers have reached out to us about using the Civinomics platform as an educational tool. And while that was never our main focus to begin with, after having a couple of discussions with local educators, the value of using something like Civinomics in the classroom became fairly obvious. Combine this with the fact that our program manager, Russell Sterten, actually used to be a teacher, and we knew we were on to something.

With this in mind, we have decided to launch a Civinomics for Education page, which will include project descriptions, how-to guides and even sample lesson plans for incorporating our platform into all types of curriculums. However, before we launch right into things, we want to hear from the individuals who can provide the most insight into how to make our page the best it can be – teachers. So consider this an open invitation to all local teachers and educators of all ranks. We want to hear from you! If you are interested in contributing to, and/or learning more about Civinomics for education, please email Russell using the link below.

Email russell at: russell@civinomics.com


Meet Chelsea Clark, Civinomics’ new intern and 4th year Legal Studies and Politics student at UCSC. In her opening contribution to our blog, Chelsea describes her experience studying abroad in France, and discusses the stark cultural differences between America and Europe, especially in terms of civic engagement. In particular, Chelsea talks about the frequency and extent of French activism, embodied in the many strikes and acts of civil disobedience instigated by the general population that can sometimes span the entire country! She further elaborates “While most Americans could not tell you the name of their congressional representative, in France it is often frowned upon if you are not politically engaged.” She goes on to clarify that it’s not all baguettes and fine wine, and that French political culture has it’s own problems, but that the experience was eye opening nonetheless.

Read her blog here


Have you ever wanted to get more involved in local issues, but perhaps didn’t feel comfortable enough going to a full fledged public meeting right off the bat? Or maybe you wanted to learn more about Civinomics and our approach to civics in general? Or, perhaps, you just want to hang out with some cool people and eat some free pizza? Either way, we are launching a new weekly meetup called Civinomics Civic Hack Night. Every Wednesday, feel free to join members of the Civinomics team in learning about and discussing local issues, and keeping track of and getting involved in a number of interesting and unique local projects, as well as enjoying the good company other community members. Whether you are a first timer, or have been following us from the start, this is a great opportunity to stay engaged and give us feedback. Our first meetup will be next Wednesday, February 12, at 6pm in our offices in downtown Santa Cruz. To learn more, and RSVP, please click the link below.

See the MeetUp.


It’s been another busy week for the development team. The hunt for bugs and the quest to improve performance continue unabated.

Activity feeds are now front and center on your home page as you login, and over the coming weeks, the feed will be tuned to show the activity in Workshops and Initiatives you are following or in which you are a Listener.

Workshops now load faster, and are easier to read, and have more information in the Ideas listings.

Also new this week is provisional voting for new signups. Now, when new members sign up, they are logged in immediately and can cast provisional votes on items in Workshops and Initiatives. New members have two weeks to complete the Civinomics account activation process before their provisional votes are discounted. This new change helps our outreach team in the field sign new members up and get them participating faster.

As always, if you have comments or feature requests, add an idea to the How Can We Improve Civinomics workshop.

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