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

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    If You Drive Less Than 10,000 Miles a Year, You Probably Shouldn't Own a Car

    Up to one-quarter of all U.S. drivers might be better off using ride-sharing services instead.

  2. Equity

    Big Tech Ought to Step Up for Cities

    Leading high-tech firms have increasingly gone from heroes to villains in the eyes of their neighbors. It’s in their own interest to help make cities more affordable and inclusive.

  3. Transportation

    How Seattle Bucked a National Trend and Got More People to Ride the Bus

    Three experts in three very different positions weigh in on their city’s ridership success.

  4. Maggie Gyllenhaal walks the mean streets of 1971 New York City in HBO's "The Deuce," created by David Simon.
    Life

    David Simon Does Not Miss the Sleaziness

    The creator of HBO’s “The Deuce” talks about the rebirth of Times Square, other cities he loves, and why bureaucrats can be TV heroes, too.

  5. Equity

    The Next Frontier in Housing Affordability: Water Bills

    New legislation to charge for water use based on monthly income is cropping up in Philadelphia and Baltimore, designed to keep people from drowning in water debt.