Posts tagged civicinnovation
The Civic Explosion

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. 


Stay tuned for more about verynice civic innovation efforts. In the mean time, we're welcoming applications for the Civic Innovation Fellowship through October 1. Click here to apply

Jakecivinn, civicinnovation, los angeles
Civic Innovation is verynice.

Civic innovation IS verynice, and here's why: verynice has constantly been evolving its definition of "local" since its inception. Starting with our Los Angeles office, verynice is making it a priority to dedicate greater capacity to helping innovate and design for our local communities.

That's why we were thrilled to partner with the City of Los Angeles' Controllers Office to craft a brand new position that aims to blend design thinking and civic innovation to solve some of the city's greatest problems: The Civic Innovation Fellowship (Interested? Apply here!). The position is a natural evolution of our Entrepreneur In Residence program— and it essentially carves out an entirely new role for designers in government. 

We believe our focus on civic innovation is crucial to our future as both a company that enacts change in the world and as individual citizens. To explain exactly what we mean, we sat down with our founder, Matt Manos, for a quick interview on verynice's approach to civic innovation. Check it out!

Hey, Matt!

Why is it important for citizens to participate in civic innovation? (Phrased another way: why can't the government just do it?)

Innovation in the public sector has to be a collaborative effort, and the participation of local citizens is a crucial endeavor. Marshall McLuhan is famous for saying 'We don't know who discovered water, but we know it wasn't the fish.' I've always personally interpreted this to paint a picture of the idea that sometimes when we are too close to something, we can miss the most obvious solutions and ideas. The same goes for government— innovation cannot just come from within.


What do designers have to contribute to civic innovation?

Marketing and design is shifting significantly, and the role of designers, right now, is drastically different than it was during the days of Mad Men. We are entering a future in which everything around us, from the sidewalks we walk on, to the cities we live in, to the hats on our heads, can be mediums for communication and engagement. Because of this reality, designers have truly evolved beyond the role of the "facade maker" into the role of the facilitator. This makes them an ideal contributor to civic innovation.


Can you explain a bit more about "design thinking" and how that intersects with civic innovation? 

In Design Thinking, empathy is at the core of the design process— it is the first step in understanding what the end user might need by being able to get hands-on experience understanding their problems and “pain points.” Empathy, as opposed to sympathy, is a way for us to develop our understanding by sharing an experience. This is a significant tool to leverage in the public sector as it doesn't assume what the public needs, but instead works with the community to create an innovative solution. 


Why is civic innovation a priority for verynice? 

As verynice has grown over the years, the concept of what is "local" has changed for us dramatically. At the beginning of this year, we made it a priority for the Los Angeles office to increase focus and bandwidth around local causes and innovation in the public sector. This is a crucial cause in defining the future of verynice as it relates to our immediate state(s), city(ies), and community(ies).


Stay tuned for more about verynice civic innovation efforts. In the mean time, we're welcoming applications for the Civic Innovation Fellowship through October 1. Click here to apply