City Getting New Website to Crowdsource Dumb Ideas

01.20.11 Lauri Apple

Have you got some big bold ideas that would make New York City more sustainable/livable/creative class/green, if only one of dem goofballs from City Hall would just listen to you? Well stop it with the name-calling already, because the city IS going to start listening to you very soon, via the dynamic new Internet website Give a Minute!

You’ll be able to go there and feel supported for thinking “outside the box.” The NYC version of GaM launches in April or May and will be part of PlaNYC2030, the city’s sustainability initiative. Foundations are funding it. “Give a Minute is a new kind of public dialogue. It only takes a minute to think about improving your city, but your ideas can make a world of difference,” says its website, which is prettily colorful but has a terrible, terrible interface.

So terrible, in fact, that we tried to use it to leave our GREEN ideas and were completely confused about what was going on; all the existing post-its confused us. As it turns out, what we saw was the work of Memphis residents–who were asked the question, “What skills would you love to develop professionally or put to use?” Judging from the quality of their answers, we have much to look forward to:

“The sewer grates are hideously dangerous, especially on East Parkway. I know how to fix them.”


“I want to be a level 50 comicsmith. Learning to play an instrument would be nice too…”

“Help others run seminars about becoming ‘community-involved.'”

“lots of hot dogs”

“remove the street signs”

Chicagoans have also participated in this pointless exercise, answering the question: “”Hey, Chicago, what would encourage you to walk, bike or take the CTA more often?” More than 2,000 people responded! “But the mechanism for linking these ideas with actual action groups or agendas was not yet in place,” reports Fast Company. Are you surprised?

Oh well, maybe things in NYC will work differently. So we should start preparing our post-its now, because we’ll want to have good ideas for when GaM finally launches here. Some things to think about: Should we ban plastic bags and carry everything in canvas bags that advertise our favorite nonprofit organizations, or should we use even more plastic bags (but use them over and over again)? Do you think that if the new Walmarts headed this way have “white membrane roofs” on them, that New York will rise to a higher level of greenness? And should we all have to compost? (You can start posting ideas here, by the way. Do it for the practice!)