Exciting news: NYC Council Member Brad Lander is drafting legislation based on a constituent question from AskThem.io. It’s the first time a bill has been sparked by a citizen’s idea on our open questions-and-answers platform.
Lander’s official response to this public question on AskThem is a great example of how our site can surface community issues and support continual, productive conversation with local elected officials.
Council Member Lander responded to the question, “How can NYC enact something like Seattle’s Race & Social Justice Initiative?” – submitted by Elizabeth Adams, one of his Brooklyn constituents who you’ll meet below.
In this, his second official answer on AskThem, Lander announced heÂ has submittedÂ a legislative drafting request for such a Race & Social Justice Initiative and a “fair and just ordinance”, and will work with the de Blasio Administration & others to advance it. (His first answer was on the topic of affordable housing.)
Along the way, he discusses why he got involved in progressive politics and his passion for racial & social justice. And that’s not all – he includes an impressive thirteen links (!!) to outside resources on policy & community groups & participatory budgeting & more.
Elizabeth Adams asked the question to Council Member Lander on AskThem, and when we wrote her to let her know that we were publishing an official response, she wrote back this terrific note:
Wow! Â My co-conspirators at the Peopleâ€™s Institute for Survival and Beyond and I feel extremely gratified that Brad Lander not only answered our question, but is actually drafting legislation in response to it! Â Itâ€™s as if representative democracy is actually working! Â Sad to say, very surreal! Â I was saying yesterday that the state feels like a level where progressive change could take place – Iâ€™m so inspired by the campaign for universal single payer in VT, but their Town Hall system provided a crucial structural framework for their campaign, and I have wondered how we in NY could possibly emulate it without that framework. Â It seems like AskThem might be a kind of proto-answer to that question.
Since the â€™08 presidential campaign, Iâ€™ve been waiting for the internet to enable grass-roots civic engagement, beyond fundraising and petitions. Â AskThem really raises the level of discourse by enabling more of a back-and-forth. Â It feels like the beginning of what we were promised.
- Maeve Carver writes, “We’re thankful Brad Lander is taking initiative to get this rolling, and we’re happy to be a part of a much larger push towards drafting more antiracist legislation.â€
- Anna Berg, who found your site for us, writes, â€œGo team!! Â It’s so great to have found a point of entry so easily.â€
- Sandy Bernabei says,Â “This is extraordinary news!!! Congratulations, and thank you Anna Berg.â€
- And Rachel Duvall writes, “This is very exciting news!”
List of Brad’s policy & resource links :
- Prohibiting bias-based policing‘, “It’s not a crime to be who you are”
Thank you to Council Member Lander for continuing to lead the way in open online public dialogue in NYC, and for the typically-substantive and thoughtful response. This is a great model for how AskThem can work for continual conversation with every elected official, from U.S. representatives down to city council members. See more top questions to NYC elected officials, as NYC pushes things forward on AskThem.
In other words, CM Lander is referring toÂ real public policiesÂ that can be iterated & advanced & discussed in the open, such asÂ racial justice resourcesÂ from the national group Local Progress he helped to found – exactly as we designed AskThem to support. And this community group’s question to their local rep has ended up introducing legislation they can track and support, continuing the conversation.
More about Elizabeth, who asked the question & targeted it to her city council member:Â Elizabeth Adams is a composer and activist who teaches at The School for Designing A Society, and organizes with What A Neighborhood!, and Free University, in addition to The Peopleâ€™s Institute for Survival and Beyond, whose White Anti-Racist Gathering led to the group that asked her question. She also produces Julie & Elizabethâ€™s Anti-Capitalist Concert Series, and Art Song Against Mass Incarceration.
Thank you Elizabeth! Hope you & your group will continue to ask questions and follow-up about the status of the legislative initiative Brad’s office has begun researching, as well as contribute ideas via his email address above.
Whether you’re in NYC or anywhere else, find everyone who represents you by entering your residential street address on ourÂ homepage, orÂ ask your own question. Let us know what you asked and we’ll feature it on our blog & social media! Email maryam at askthem.io, or Tweet at us,Â @AskThemPPF.