The following has been contributed by OurSay.org co-founders, Matthew Gordon and Eyal Halamish.
OURSAY.ORG IS AN INDEPENDENT DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT organisation revitalising democratic participation in Australia. OurSay works by inviting a leader inside an organisation such as a large business, university or government department to create online forums where communities can post a question or idea, vote and comment on submissions. The most popular submissions are then put to this person in power to be answered publicly either on film or at an event. The centralised moderation of public input and the innovative linking of social media to a physical engagement event is what drives OurSay.
In 2012 Hepburn Shire decided to create a four-year plan for the future direction of the council and looked for a new way to increase public participation. This led, in February 2013, to OurSay facilitating a project with the Hepburn Shire Council called ‘What’s the Big Idea?’ The Hepburn Shire Council promised that the top 10 democratically chosen ideas from the forum would be addressed on a night where the community, councillors and council officers would come together to negotiate the key themes to incorporate into the council plan. This important event occurred on March 26 in 2013.
This led Chris, who received a notification of the project with his council rate notice, to jump in his truck to make it to the meeting in Yandoit, a hamlet with a population of 308 on the northern outskirts ...