Think You Have Better Ideas Than Your City Leaders? Prove it, Says Code For America And MindMixer

Hoping to ride the ongoing wave of civic innovation, a nonprofit and a startup put out a month-long call for ideas that could help fix communities across America.

Do you often find yourself hacking together, in your brain, quick fixes for every day grievances like subway delays, shoddy public wifi, and crappy parking? Today, Code for America (the national non-profit dedicated to innovation through open software) and MindMixer (an online engagement platform that connects users via their shared causes and interests) launch Ideation Nation—a month-long rally that asks Americans to offer up their ideas about how technology could improve the way citizens live and work.

"We can’t wait to see all of the ideas that citizens bring to the table," says Nick Bowen, MindMixer’s CEO. "This creates an enormous opportunity for government leaders to recognize and respond to the desire to innovate in our communities."

But the partnership isn’t just a call for ideas – it’s a contest for the brightest ideas in the land. Participants have from today until the end of October to submit their ideas to Ideation Nation. Once all the entries are in, a panel of civic and tech leaders will judge the ideas based on their creativity, innovation, and practicality. The winner with the best idea will be announced on Dec. 3, and will snag a free MindMixer site to rally supporters for their idea, along with $5,000 and mentorship from CfA and MindMixer to kick off the winning scheme in 2014.

"Historically, this would require a town hall meeting, lots of planning, and a significant amount of time," Bowen says.

Ideation Nation follows a number of other platforms that have found success in crowdsourcing ideas from citizens to tackle civic issues, from San Francisco’s InnovateSF to the startup Public Stuff, founded by entrepreneur Lily Liu.

For the people and by the people, indeed.

[Image: Flickr user Ismar Badzic]

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