Category Archives: New Orleans

Policypitch Coverage in New Orleans

The past few weeks we have received some great press from the New Orleans media.   I wanted to share some of the coverage that we have received.   A lot of it stems from the first bill that we made available for public comment 2 weeks ago, House Bill 638 by Representative Hines.  The Louisiana Legislative session starts today, and Rep. Hines is still seeking public input on the bill.

From WDSU Channel 6 News New Web Site Offers Public Feedback on Proposed Bills:”

The site allows users to communicate directly to their state representatives and communicate with other residents about the issues they care about most.  The web site http://www.policypitch.com is an online forum for introducing and discussing community ideas. Citizens can give input into proposed bills and receive feedback by voting or ranking the ideas in their community.  People who visit the site can also start petitions, accept online donations, and build support for their ideas.

Policypitch was launched by local New Orleanian Zach Kupperman.

And from New Orleans City Business No State Income Tax for Young Adults:”

…Kupperman said his Web site, launched in test form last year and headquartered in New Orleans, is “trying to change the way that the public interacts with their elected officials. Society is moving towards a bottom-up approach to creating public policy. We are entering the era of the community authored wiki bill.”

The Web site will soon offer free legislative tracking for Louisiana and, eventually, the United States.

Also watch the news video from ABC 26 News Tax Break for College Students.”

Check out our press page to check out all of our recent buzz!

Leave a comment

Filed under New Orleans, news, Policypitch.com updates, Uncategorized, updates

The Corps gets public input for MRGO ecosystem plan

Last week, on November 3 and November 6, the Army Corps of Engineers held two meetings around New Orleans to solicit public input on a plan aimed at restoring and maintaining the areas affected by the now de-authorized Mississippi River Gulf Coast Outlet (MRGO).  The Corps invited public input on two major issues:

1. What are the most important issues, resources, benefits, and impacts that should be considered?

2. Are there any other restoration features or modifications to the restoration features identified that should be considered?

The real question is whether the Corps was really seeking input for the plan, or whether they were conducting the sessions as a mere formality?  Indeed, the public notice released by the Corps states that the public meeting is required for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

While most agree that Katrina turned MRGO into a hurricane highway that contributed to the city’s flooding, closing the channel outright seems like an extreme step, particularly in light of the fact that other measures, like flood gates and wetland restoration, could be designed and built to protect urban areas from flooding while still providing the shipping industry with a short route to the gulf.  I guess it becomes a question of resources…how much would it all cost and do the benefits outweigh the expenses?

The Green Corridor Plan seems to be a politically impossible, yet logical solution to the MRGO problem, the State’s energy concerns, and economic development in the New Orleans region.

From Greencorridor.org:

The “Green Corridor Solution” is not just a plan, but a system. A system designed to solve most of the major problems facing Louisiana today – Permanent Wetlands Funding, Green Energy, Hurricane Protection, Economic Development, Habitat Restoration and National Political Acceptance to create a stable future for Louisiana and its citizens.

The system is designed to utilize all of Louisiana’s assets to bring together one plan of action, create 150,000 permanent jobs and start an era of economic expansion that will be unequaled in the modern world.

If any of the following are important to you, then Green Corridor can use your support.

  • Permanent wetlands restoration & funding
  • True protection for the city of New Orleans
  • Fuel adjustment charge “off” your utility bill
  • Reduce need for fossil fuels & lower our carbon footprint
  • 150,000 permanent new jobs
  • Beaches in Louisiana
  • New Orleans the Queen of the South, again!

Can the massive GreenCorridor plan gain enough traction to overcome the critics?

Click here for the master plan.

Leave a comment

Filed under environment, Louisiana, New Orleans, Politics

Crowd-powered Dog Park in New Orleans takes shape

A group of residents in Brooadmoor have worked hard through two years of planning to collectively develop a plan for their own neighborhood dog park, collaborated with the neighborhood organizations, gathered the necessary resources, and are now working with the city to make it a reality.  Below is an interview with Dogmoor leaders Duffy Voigt and Maggie Carrol.

Who came up with the Dogmoor idea and why?

The original broad concept of a dogpark to serve the Broadmoor neighborhood came from the community-driven planning efforts of early 2006. In the Broadmoor Redevelopment Plan, residents identified the importance of pets in the family and community as it relates to uses of park space for a dog park and the need to foster responsible pet ownership. Duff Voigt, a Broadmoor home owner who had just moved to the neighborhood weeks before Katrina, coined the “Dogmoor” term and spearheaded the work of the Dogmoor Committee. After having moved to the French Quarter temporarily while his house was being renovated,  he had the opportunity to take advantage of the unofficial Cabrini Dog Park and wanted to see that experience come home to Broadmoor. The dog park provided an excellent resource for collecting and sharing neighborhood information, dog training, and community building. It also got the dogs far more tired than just walking them would have, and gave instant dog socialization that urban dogs often lack. When he expressed his desire to bring a dogpark to Broadmoor, several community members joined him and began working as a committee to make Dogmoor a reality.

How did you work with the neighbors and the neighborhood group to make the dog park a reality?

We’re still in the process of getting the dog park to reality. We are currently coalition building to get surrounding businesses and communities on board with the park. The park obviously presents several major benefits to all involved, and we anticipate this will be the easiest part of the process. Between the increased commercial traffic and public safety improvements of having people in a commercial/light industrial zoned area, the dog park seems a no-brainer.

What online collaborative tools would have helped in the organization process?

Email has been a large part of the planning process. We have also have made limited use of Google Docs in order to share documents amongst committee members. The website will also likely provide a way to issue announcements to park users as well as solicit donations for its maintenance.

Why does this benefit New Orleans and are there any other specific areas of the city that you can think of where dog parks would be welcomed by the neighbors?

An officially sanctioned dog park would finally lend legitimacy to the dog park movement within the city. There are several unofficial dog parks around the city that have evolved through custom. However, having the dogs off-leash in these parks is technically illegal, and they are always under the threat of being closed down by city officials. They provide a community gathering place, get people on the street with their dogs, and promote responsible dog ownership.

Every neighborhood in New Orleans could use a dog park, but the existing “maverick” parks at Colosseum Square, Markey Park, Cabrini Park, and the Audubon river front could use some infrastructure improvement (or creation) and official city recognition and support.

Find our more about Dogmoor.  Maybe the Dogmoor committee can show the NOLAguys, who used Policypitch to pitch an idea to build a dog park in the warehouse district, how its done!

Leave a comment

Filed under community, crowdsourcing, New Orleans

How to establish a community garden?

Anyone can do it through crowd-powered neighbor collaboration.  Parkway Partners in New Orleans has been doing it for 26 years.  Parkway’s mission is to empower residents to improve quality of life through the preservation, maintenance, and beautification of neatrual grounds, green spaces, playgrounds, parks, community gardens and the urban forest in New Orleans.  Among many other programs, Parkway works with neighborhoods to create community gardens.   Their process for turning the idea into reality comes in several steps:

  1. Identify a vacant area and gather a group of interested neighbors. Select a representative to act as liaison with Parkway Partners
  2. Contact Parkway partners and tell them about the project.  Gather data on addresses to the  buildings adjacent to the vacant property.
  3. Parkway Partners begins the research necessary to identify the owner and obtain permission for its use.
  4. Meet with neighbors to establish interest.  Schedule a meeting of interested neighbors.  Once a commitment to the garden is assured, select a project coordinator to schedule a meeting with a representative of Parkway Partners
  5. Clean-up day is organized for the site once permission to use the property has been granted.
  6. Make a Plan.  A garden plan is designed by the neighbors in conjunction with Parkway Partners and gardeners.
  7. Raise funds.  Money must be raised from public and private sources to establish and maintain the site.  Often, the city department that manages parks will help with maintenance.
  8. Finally, the framing is set in, soil is amended and the garden is planted!

More about Community gardens at the Neighborhood Partnership Network in New Orleans.

2 Comments

Filed under community, crowdsourcing, environment, New Orleans

New Orleans attempts crowd-influenced Zoning ordinance

On September 27, 2008, New Orleans residents were invited to participate in a yearlong process of creating a 20-year master plan for development. The master plan will create a citywide framework to guide decision-makers in promoting economic development, better housing, improved infrastructure, environmental quality and other goals while preserving the city’s architectural and cultural legacies.
The forum’s theme is “Creating a Vision for New Orleans’ Future Together.”  The yearlong forum seeks to engage residents such that the new ordinance reflects the values, aspirations, and priorities of the whole community.  A website has launched with information and to keep residents up to date on the progress.  Citizens can also participate through resident surveys, public meetings, community groups, and work groups.

While its great that the city is attempting to increase input from its residents, my guess is that this will still be a primarily top-down approach to overhauling the zoning. The City Planning Commission has hired Goody Clancy, a Boston planning and architectural firm, to lead the effort to create the master plan and will be paid at least $2 million for the job.

While tools like Policypitch.com use the internet to make crowd-sourcing public policy more effective, it begs the question: can a city zoning ordinance truly be developed by the crowds?  Don’t we need to use professional urban planners and lawyers to draft the plan?  So, while this is a good step in the right direction, is society at a stage yet where public policy can be developed by its individual residents?  Any ideas?

More info about the master plan at: www.nolamasterplans.org

Leave a comment

Filed under crowdsourcing, New Orleans, Politics, transparency, Uncategorized

504ward.com: successful community crowdsourcing for local change (Part II)

The initial meeting took place in November 2007.  About 25 New Orleans residents showed up, brainstormed, met in focus groups, and exchanged ideas.   Many community meetings followed.  In February 2007, the group wrote an RFP for the website design and branding of the campaign.  The Ideavillage team selected four companies to present.  In March, a collaborative team of about 30 community residents, mainly young people, watched the presentations, and voted on a theme and a company.  The Netcom Group and the 504ward.com campaign won the day. From that point, Ideavillage took the ball and rolled with it.  Jessica White was hired to coordinate the launch.  Hundreds of behind the scenes meetings took place.

And finally, last night, in true New Orleans style, some 504 New Orleanians attended the historic launch of 504ward at Tipitinas.  The final product is 504ward.com, a collaborative initiative designed to retain the influx of young movers and shakers who are arriving by the hundreds in New Orleans.  The initiative has 4 major components: 504connect, a connection program to help our young talent develop cross-generational roots and relationships to better navigate the New Orleans Networks; 504explore, our very own insider’s guide to the cultural escapes and social happenings on tap in New Orleans; Talent Profiles, featuring one young cultural rock star each week in CityBusiness (be sure to check out this week’s cover story!); and the $100,000 business competition for entrepreneurs with ideas to retain New Orleans’ young talent.  An effective and efficient job board for young people is also being developed for 504ward by NOLA YURP.

The 504ward story is a successful example of crowdsourcing for local policy change.  The community identified a problem, leaders stepped up, citizens joined in the collaborative process and followed through, and most importantly, the professional services and resources were donated (office space, wed development, legal, marketing, website optimization, PR, advertising, etc.) to make it happen.

See the competition video:

Leave a comment

Filed under crowdsourcing, New Orleans, Social Innovation