Reuters

From arguments to interruptions, town hall meetings can be pretty inefficient.

The community meeting is one of those first-level-in-the-pyramid, foundational elements of a democratic society. The people come together to hear from and talk to their elected officials and bureaucrats, and to play a part in collectively deciding what should and should not happen in a community. These meetings are important. But often they're also slow, inefficient argue-fests that are more Jerry Springer than Founding Fathers.

In this recent TEDx talk recorded in Harlem, Jake Barton cleverly portrays the frustrating inefficiencies of the typical community meeting using images of community meetings from the photo-sharing site Flickr. Barton is the founder of Local Projects, a media design firm that helps run a website called Change By Us that allows citizens to share ideas for improving their city, join efforts in their neighborhoods, and connect with public and non-profit groups that are able to support or fund ideas. We wrote about Change By Us – and the overlapping goals of the TED organization's City 2.0 prize – back in March.

Barton thinks there's a better way to get neighbors and community members involved in bringing about change. To illustrate his point, he walks us through a typical bad community meeting, with visual aides and narration. Below is just the segment of his talk featuring the recreated community meeting bit, but the entire talk is also worth watching.

Top image credit: Jason Redmond/Reuters

About the Author

Nate Berg

Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.

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