Positive, productive civic interaction at the local level has the best chance of making a tangible difference in citizens’ lives, as well as contributing to a more civil political discourse at higher levels. Better Alamance implements open-source "civic technologies" in Alamance County, North Carolina to improve the functioning of local communities. Better Alamance currently consists of two initiatives: an online platform for prioritizing ideas to improve the community (Better Alamance: Ideas) and a community wiki designed to promote local knowledge sharing (Better Alamance: Wiki).
Better Alamance: Ideas is an online platform that supports citizen engagement and innovation in local political processes, and focuses on ways to integrate underrepresented voices into policy-making discussions. A sophisticated but highly accessible system design ensures that citizens with varying levels of technical literacy are able to participate, that the best ideas and proposals emerge via democratic interaction, and that debate of issues remains focused and productive.
Better Alamance: Wiki is being developed as a community repository of knowledge about the communities of Alamance County. Combining geographic information and maps, photos, videos, and text, the wiki is evolving into a comprehensive, interlinked resource of news, documentation, history, and humor.
We are documenting our experiences working with community organizations, schools, local governments, and citizens to develop a platform from which others can launch their own Better Community projects.