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. Design

    A History of the American Public Library

    A visual exploration of how a critical piece of social infrastructure came to be.

  2. Equity

    Berlin Builds an Arsenal of Ideas to Stage a Housing Revolution

    The proposals might seem radical—from banning huge corporate landlords to freezing rents for five years—but polls show the public is ready for something dramatic.

  3. A photo of a design maquette for the Obama Presidential Center planned for Jackson Park and designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.
    Design

    Why the Case Against the Obama Presidential Center Is So Important

    A judge has ruled that a lawsuit brought by Chicago preservationists can proceed, dealing a blow to Barack Obama's plans to build his library in Jackson Park.

  4. Maps

    Mapping the Growing Gap Between Job Seekers and Employers

    Mapping job openings with available employees in major U.S. cities reveals a striking spatial mismatch, according to a new Urban Institute report.

  5. Equity

    The FBI's Forgotten War on Black-Owned Bookstores

    At the height of the Black Power movement, the Bureau focused on the unlikeliest of public enemies: black independent booksellers.