Philly Establishes New Office for Civic Innovation

Following Boston's visionary lead, this week Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter formally created the city's Office of New Urban Mechanics, "a civic innovation tool for urban transformation.”
December 13, 2012, 11am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, than Boston must be blushing about now. This week, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed an executive order formally creating the city's Office of New Urban Mechanics, which is modeled on a similar program by the same name created by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

Originally announced by Nutter in October, "the office will establish a space where civic hackers, entrepreneurs and government employees can work together on experimental projects to address specific urban issues," reported Government Technology at the time. "The center is intended to be a place where new ideas can be attempted at low cost and without anyone worrying about the stigma of failure."

In the two months since Nutter's initial announcement, the initiative has already "spawned several small projects, including Neighborhow, a website that aims to help citizens improve their communities. The website also features guides with such topics as 'How to get free trees for your yard' or 'Host a block part on your street,' as well as an area where users can submit ideas or suggestions as a way to start new local projects."

"The new agency will be co-directed by Jeff Friedman, who has worked in the mayor's office since 2008 on projects such as Philly 311, and Story Bellows, who joined the mayor's office in April."

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Published on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 in Government Technology
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