In the last few years we’ve seen a “Civic” explosion. A host of new civic innovation phyla have emerged in the form of foundation projects, government offices, science initiatives, academic degree programs, mayoral fellowships, studios, labs, and on and on. It does feel as though we are seeing a fast rising wave of civic innovation efforts, and there are many surfers paddling out for the ride.
I’ve been researching political systems failures and in creating processes that encourage citizens to participate in the re-design of governing structures for some time. The ReConstitutional Convention held in April 2013 at IFTF (and in satellite nodes around the world) was a seminal moment for me, showing that the movement is there, it is real, and it has the potential to change government in non-incremental ways. The ReConCon brought together constitutional law professors, designers, hackers, artists, political scientists, futurists, technologists, artists and others to re-think governance from the ground up. It is this kind of thinking, and the sort of aesthetics, attitudes, and irreverent sensibilities found in this group that may ultimately be the source of a new kind of governing and new kind of society built to survive and thrive in the 21st Century.
With a keen interest and deep expertise in social enterprise, participatory systems, and civic engagement verynice, working with the City of Los Angeles, has recently spawned its own civic innovation fellowship to push new governance thinking and new governance designs to address the challenges LA faces now, and in the future.
Like the Cambrian explosion invoked above, this new civic explosion will punctuate the equilibrium of incremental government evolution—and life (and how we govern it) will never be the same. Just as no one knows exactly where evolution will take life, we don’t know where this grand renaissance in governance and civic engagement will take us—but the more ideas, experiments, sharing, feedback, and broad citizen participation we have, the more confidence I have that we’ll be heading toward better futures.