The Solution for Neighborhood Improvement? E-Democracy for All

by Tristan Pollock


In 1994, Steven Clift, founder of and Ashoka Fellow, spawned  the world’s first election information Web site.

That accomplishment led him to the development of a local model and other scalable online initiatives to bring together neighborhood communities across Minnesota, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. “We’re interested in how to connect everyday people in Internet life,” Clift says.

Clift and local volunteers took E-Democracy to the city level in 1998 with the Minneapolis Issues Forum, the success of which caught the attention of the British government. Britain embraced the idea of city-wide online community involvement and wanted to push the envelope farther to reach neighborhoods. The model was even more effective in the cities of Bristol and Oxford because it built community and engaged everyday citizens, not just the most political. Based on this success, created neighborhood Issues Forums within Minneapolis and St. Paul — places where neighbors can discuss issues in their community.