Today’s Solutions: December 03, 2021

Calls to defund the police need to be heard by the local politicians who make city budget decisions. But the meetings where those decisions are made can be difficult to find out about, or full of confusing bureaucratic language; those who have never attended a city council meeting before may not know how to make their voice heard.

Now, a new website aims to make it easier for the public to participate in these conversations by making the budget decision-making process more transparent.

Called, the site was created by a group of allies and web developers and spearheaded by Jane Kim, who previously served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and as president of the San Francisco Board of Education. It lists clear information on what meetings are coming up and when, what specifically is on that meeting’s agenda, who the local decision-makers are, and how exactly a resident can make a public comment.

“I’ve seen it from my personal experience that the meetings where relevant budget decisions are made are often under-attended, hard to locate, awkwardly timed, and we know that there are a lot of barriers to attendance,” Kim says. She remembers Black Lives Matter activists coming into a board meeting to demand police reform but noticed that they often didn’t know what was on that day’s agenda.

When protests started after George Floyd’s death, Kim thought that maybe not enough had changed around city budgets earlier, partly because of how complicated that process is. She wanted to build a tool that informs organizers and activists about these meetings, and she reached out to web developers and some people she met while working as California political director for Senator Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign to do so. There’s no overarching goal of besides civic participation, she stressed.

At the Optimist Daily, we recognize that real solutions require us to participate more in policymaking—that means not only voting, but also going to local government meetings and making your voice heard.

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