Blog

This is where I’ll include posts about interesting news, my work, and random personal thoughts.

Streetmix

I’m spending the morning playing around with this fun app, Streetmix.  It’s a project created by participants in Code for America, a great program that I’ve been following for a few years now.  They select a small group of fellows each year, and the fellows create apps and other coding projects to help government work better.

Streetmix lets anyone see what a street redesign might look like.  Want to show your city planners that your street can accommodate bike lanes and wider sidewalks?  Go for it, and add transit, medians, and parklets, too.  It adds a new element of data, and enables greater civic engagement.

I’m sure it has its kinks, but so far, I love it.

New Mexico’s (non-existent) water: a bellwether for the rest of the west

New Mexico’s ongoing drought is destroying ecosystems and turning people against each other as individuals fight for the lifestyles that they’ve known for decades and face off against future environmental uncertainty.  This piece from the LA Times summarizes the issues well, and points out that this is going to be hitting the rest of the west as well.

What consensus-building really takes: time and people

Here’s a great reminder about what we really need if we’re going to solve problems and work together: face-to-face interaction, and the time that’s necessary to get that. Sure, if necessary, we can make progress with videoconferences, email, chats, Facebook, and Twitter… but there won’t be the same investment with electronic media as there is when you can get people in the same room.  This is something that stays constant across age, education, and experience.

And another reminder:

People need to get in the same room and talk to each other. Shocker.

A few very smart people are pointing out that, in order to get things done on a local/regional level, people with diverse expertise need to sit down together, work through their differing jargon, and work as a team to develop solutions.

It seems simple, but it’s surprisingly hard to do.

Plan Organized by Responsibility

A colleague shared this great way of organizing a plan by responsibility.  Unfortunately, I don’t know the original source; when I find out what it is, I’ll update this post.

Plan by Responsibility

Plans like this are most often organized by time, with the responsible party inserted as an afterthought.  This allows the ball to be dropped when life gets in the way and the plan is put on the (metaphorical) shelf.  But when you organize by name and include the responsible parties in the plan itself, it provides added motivation to accomplish the tasks and hand it off to the next person.

This is a pretty simplistic example, because it’s clear what the next step will be.  In a more complicated example, you might insert arrows or time notes, like so:

Plan by Responsibility2