Thursday, March 31, 2016

Way to stick Boston! Involving youth in government decision making. Sticky (19)

Since I am the chair for SANS Boston 2016, I keep a Google Alert for news concerning Boston. Today, I got a tip to an excellent article on a novel program in Boston involving kids, younger and older in government decision making. The article starts by saying, "When the city of Boston gave teenagers the power to allocate a million dollars a year on urban improvements, there was skepticism – not just from officials, but from youth who assumed they’d be ignored. The results surprised everyone"

The reason I think this is "sticky"(Simple/Unexpected/Concrete/Credible/Emotional)" 

  • Simple: a million bucks to allocate, let the kids figure it out. Now in truth, it *appears* to be simple, when we look under the hood we see it isn't quite that way. "Participatory budgeting does have costs and risks. Beyond the $1m of capital funds, the city spends $100,000 for staffing, consultant fees and materials. Logistics can be complicated, even for finding meeting times and locations that suit high schoolers’ schedules and transportation options. And Davis stresses that the involvement of city officials is required for educating and advising the youth on budget processes."
  • Unexpected: When was the last time you heard of a city giving kids a million dollars to invest in projects.
  • Concrete: "Concrete details allow us to imagine a scene and, crucially, imagine ourselves in it." [] "The change agents hail from many different high schools, neighbourhoods and backgrounds. They work in pairs, poring over printed pages of raw ideas. Some entries are overly grand (“Fix the transit system”); a few are silly; and a good number are not even eligible for the youth-controlled capital funds, which must go toward physical infrastructure or technology."
  • Credible. This is what they call internal credibility, "Internal credibility is the ability of our ideas themselves to convince through an appeal to our audience’s sense of how the world works and how they see it." [] It didn't come easy, they had to earn the credibility, but they did: "Youth Lead the Change has already garnered attention and honours. It made the shortlist of 15 finalists for the 2014 Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation." 
  • Emotional. "Boston has a strong tradition of involving young people in city government, says Shari Davis, an energetic 28-year-old who climbed the ranks of city government through a series of youth opportunities and summer jobs starting when she was 15 and has led Youth Lead the Change from its inception." Amazing yes?

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