Civic Capacities

Civic Data Challenge

Organization's slogan: 
The Civic Data Challenge turns the raw data of “civic health" into beautiful, useful applications and visualizations, enabling communities to be better understood and made to thrive.

The Civic Data Challenge turns the raw data of “civic health" into beautiful, useful applications and visualizations, enabling communities to be better understood and made to thrive.

Civic health data has been collected for years, and we now have an opportunity to make this trove of community insight more valuable and accessible to decision makers and the public. The Civic Data Challenge will bring new eyes, new minds, new findings, and new skill sets to the field of civic health.

Designers, data scientists, researchers, and app developers are especially encouraged to join the challenge.

Challenge participants will be provided civic health data, as well as data on health, safety, education, and the economy.  Participants will analyze the data, identify connections and correlations, and create visual representations and applications to showcase their findings. These may include infographics, apps, animations, videos, or other innovations.

Judges will evaluate entries based on the quality of the analysis and design, the compelling nature of the finding, and the utility of the product. Winners will be chosen in the categories of health, public safety, education, economy, and “Best in Show.” Challenge Judges will also choose a “Wild Card” winner.

The Challenge opened on April 3 and entries must be received by July 29. Winners will be announced at the 67thAnnual National Conference on Citizenship on September 14 in Philadelphia.

The Challenge is presented by NCoC (the National Conference on Citizenship) in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. NCoC and Knight Foundation hope the Challenge will uncover new findings on why community engagement and attachment are critical to building thriving communities.

For more information, please visit

Organizational engagement: 


Street Music

Douglas Schuler
The Public Sphere Project
Celebration of Public Music

(note that the Problem Statement is still in work.....)

Music, including singing as well as the playing of instruments, has been a key element of the human condition for millennia. Unfortunately -- at least in the United States -- music has become more of a commodity, to be enjoyed passively and non-interactively. 

The rise of mass media is probably at least one of the culprits. 


(note that the Context Statement is still in work.....)


(note that the Discussion is still in work.....)

Street Music blurs the distinction between producer and consumer of music as well as the distinction between formal and informal venues for music production and consumption. 

Although street bands, including many of those found at Honk Fests, can be found at protests (including the Infernal Noise Machine (image below) that supported the demonstrations against the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999), their actions are often political to a large degree by virtue of their publicness in an era of electronic or other formalized or mediated forms of music consumption. 

See for Environmental Encroachment's performance of Hashia.


Thanks to a member of the Bucharest Drinking Team and to Bob of Environmental Encroachment for their thoughts on the current breed of "new street bands" including their history and motivation. 



Solution in work:

something about establishing and supporting street music. More and more and more of it....

Social Critique
Community Action
Social Movement
Media Critique
Information about introductory graphic: 
Photo of Church, a marching band from Santa Rosa, California. Shot by Douglas Schuler, June 1, 2012. Georgetown (Seattle, WA)
Information about summary graphic: 

Infernal Noise Machine, Seattle Washington

The Long Walk for Justice by George Lakey

"What do Native Americans, Costa Ricans, Thai villagers, Hispanic students in U.S. colleges, Indian independence activists and Maasai women have in common? They’ve all organized long marches as part of campaigns for justice. Their campaigns’ very different choices about how to use the tactic raises strategic questions for us today. In some campaigns the long march was used primarily to heighten awareness, while in others it was to gain new allies. Sometimes it was used to launch other kinds of direct action.


Small World News

Civic Organization Disclaimer: 
Possible disclaimer: This information has been entered by a person who isn't associated with the organization. It may be incomplete or contain mistakes. If you are associated with this organization and would like to maintain this information, please get a Public Sphere Project account and ask us to transfer ownership of this information to you.

From the mission statement: 


Small World News focuses on developing the capacity of citizens to engage with the international community in crisis areas and conflict zones.

Our most recent project, Alive in Libya, showcased the potential of citizen media when combined with affordable digital technologies and professional training. As an organization our primary focus has been to guide local citizens through the entire process, from learning to produce professional media to distributing via social media and leveraging relevant technologies to broaden the impact.

We believe our unique body of expertise with media development in conflict areas such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya makes us uniquely positioned to provide training to existing media professionals, human rights and civil society organizations, as well as independent citizens. In the past year, in addition to our own projects, Small World News has conducted training in Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Rwanda, Bahrain, Libya, and Uganda. Training subjects included: new media tools for civil society, SMS and mobile technology, training for journalists in new media and multimedia, training and advising in online security, training and deployment of Ushahidi.

Organizational engagement: 


Open North

Organization's slogan: 
Open North is a Canadian non-profit that builds online tools to make democracy better.

Open North is a Canadian non-profit that builds online tools to make democracy better. We believe that the internet has the power to transform democratic engagement. It provides a platform for citizens to connect with each other and their elected officials. It opens the door to new models of consultation and decision-making. It enables fresh conversations between journalists and citizens. We're building the tools to make that happen.

We help governments involve citizens in decision-making through the internet. Online consultations and collaborations can reach a larger and more diverse group of citizens than traditional methods. When properly curated, they give participants more information to understand the factors involved in a decision.

We work with journalists to collect and analyze the data they need to break stories. Our role in these projects is to help reporters and citizens see the trends and narratives in government data so they can take action. We design visualizations and interactive features that inform, engage and entertain.

Read more about our work with government, journalists and citizens.

Year the organization was founded: 
Organizational engagement: 
Organization's headquarters: 
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Organization's geographic focus: 
Contact person: 
James McKinney
Contact information:
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