How Good Policy Alongside Good Design Improves Lives

subway transit

Tishaura Jones, the first female treasurer of St. Louis, set out to improve her city through good design. Through her own struggles dealing with the city’s bureaucracy she identified many problems with how information is presented, she noted she wasn’t the only one running into bad design. Jones decided to do something about it; the policies were there but nobody knew how to understand them since the information was presented in a Byzantine way. She has led St. Louis to alter how information gets communicated to its citizens.

As treasurer of St. Louis, she used two key design techniques to improve policy delivery and outcomes. First, she reached out to other cities that had prototyped and tested new, human-centered policies. Building on what other cities had learned allowed St. Louis to springboard forward instead of getting stuck reinventing wheels. Second, she brought together policy and processes, applying people-centered design to the rules that governed services and the delivery of them. By building connective tissue between policy, process, and people, Jones was able to built new trust in old institutions to deliver real change impacting residents’ lives.


Justin King, policy director of the family-centered social policy program at New America, where I did research, has spent his career working on issues at the intersection of children’s lives and government policies. “Tishaura and Jose before her are reinventing what’s possible inside government,” he says. “People see the state and municipal government, in a lot of cases, as a predator on them and their communities . . . [Their work] is against the tide. It is really positive and really innovative and really worth talking about.”

Read more.

How to Deal with Problematic Recyclables

Recycling programs still can’t recycle every consumer good, which means that we still need to think about what we put in the blue box (or whatever colour it is where you live). Some plastics are too hard to recycle and some containers too hard to clean. The CBC recently ran a live Q&A (video above) on common concerns around recyclables and what to do about it. Of course, the best thing you can do as a consumer is just buy less stuff and reuse what you can. Reduce, reuse, and recycle are in that order for a reason.

Coffee pods

Why they’re a problem

These contain many parts with different materials that need to be separated. In some places, like B.C., the plastic from plastic pods can be recycled when separated. But in other recycling programs, because the pods are small, pieces of them can drop through mechanical screens at recycling plants and contaminate other streams, especially glass.

What are the options?

The plastic parts can be theoretically recovered, provided everything else is separated out. Some brands let you return these. There are also private programs that recycle them.

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Science by People for People

To the average person it might look like scientists operate in an ivory tower away from reality, which, can make engaging in scientific issues intimidating. To bridge this gap engaged citizens and scientists have launched themselves into the “citizen science” way of doing things. Basically what that means is that they’re taking science to the streets.

Through Uprose and HabitatMap, another New York-based environmental justice organization, Gomez and a handful of other youth banded together to figure out exactly how much pollution the expressway was coughing into the neighborhood. “There are no entrances to the expressway in Sunset Par–just the exits,” says fellow youth organizer Brian Gonzales. “So we’re left with thousands of cars and trucks passing through every day.” The exhaust from those cars–particularly particulate matter 2.5, which is so small that 60 particles lined up equal the width of a human hair–is especially pernicious. While larger particles may lodge in nose hairs or the back of the throat and never make it into the body, PM 2.5 passes deep into the lungs and eventually the blood. They cause short-term problems like asthma and bronchitis, and cancer and heart disease later.

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Stick it to Straws

People are more aware than ever before about the damage to our planet caused by plastics. The whole life-cycle of plastics causes harm from collecting non-renewable oils to the long lifetime of most plastic products. Plastic has even been found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench (video below)! Of course, campaigns exist to try to reuse plastic use on a industrial scales while increasing recycling capacity. There is something that you can do today to help reduce plastic waste: skip the straw when you order a drink.

So we wanted to help out reducing the plastic straw. Today. Not waiting for politicians or governments to take action but just by the power of people. So we made a little sticker that can help to change our habits. A friendly one that bar owners can appreciate (because they can buy less straws)

Made by the Lieke. aka Liekeland. Everything she draws looks just..beautiful. I’d highly recommend to check out her website, best enjoyed with a cup of tea.

OK back to it. You can find 3 different stickers in this download kit.
1: Menu Stickers. Small to stick on the drink section on a menu
2: Counter Stickers. Slightly bigger and contain some extra information, perfect to stick on the bar or counter
3: Street sticker. Spread the word on the streets. Simple but effective! (we occasionally sell a few in our bazar)

Read more and get the sticker kit.

Straw

Resistbot Makes it Easy for Americans to Reach Politicians

protest

The inability to easily take action is a leading factor in why people don’t engage in political change. The creators of a new service, Resistbot, want to make it simple for Americans to have their voices heard. Resistbot is a bot you can interact with via SMS or using it has a plugin to Telegram or Facebook Messenger. For now, it has simple services but has it grows more abilities are being added to help people connect, organize, and have their voices heard.

Text RESIST to Resistbot on Telegram, Messenger, or to 50409 on SMS* and I’ll find out who represents you in Congress, and deliver your message to them in under 2 minutes. No downloads or apps required.

After I help you write or call Congress, your state governor, or the White House, you’ll discover more of what I can do: like town hall lookups, daily reminders, and opportunities for volunteering. New features are being added all the time.

So keep it personal, unscripted, and be persistent. Here are a few users who’ve gotten letters back or read more frequently asked questions.

Check out Resistbot.

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