Have you ever thought about all the government bodies that represent you and affect your life as a citizen? Have you ever tried to figure out what department to talk to get that vacant lot in the neighborhood cleared, or find the best services for your child, or figure out how you can change the zoning laws in your area? If you have, you’ve probably noted how frustrating a process it was to simply find the right agency to talk to, let alone actually get your issue addressed.
We recently did informal research into how many governments, departments, agencies, commissions, and more affected a single address in St. Paul, Minn. We were able to find more than 1,000 units, and this did not include the federal level. We had to dig through numerous websites and sometimes contact officials to get this information.
Why isn’t this information easily accessible? Why is it so hard to understand the structure of our government? It may be a complicated system, but we at MinnPost believe that we can start to untangle this mess, and that is what our project, All My Governments, aims to do. All My Governments is an engaging, scalable platform to help citizens identify every level of government that affects them — from their library board to Congress — and guide them in connecting to services and influencing policy.
Well, at least it will be. All My Governments is simply a proposal at this point. There’s a lot of work to be done to start collecting and researching all the data, building open systems for everyone to use this data, and creating a structure and procedures to make it sustainable. And that is why we are seeking funding.
The Knight Foundation, focused on pushing innovation in media, journalism, and the arts, runs regular competitions called the Knight News Challenge where they help fund breakthrough ideas in news and information. We have submitted our All My Governments idea to the News Challenge on Open Government, seeking financial support for the effort.
How you can help us:
- “Applaud” our All My Governments submission.
- Comment and ask questions about our submission.
- Help spread the word on networks like Twitter or Facebook.