Tiny House
More About The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation • Join Now!
Community News

More on Tom Tresser’s Catalyst Awards proposal

New NCDD member Tom Tresser is looking to build a team of NCDD members for his Catalyst Awards idea on “Citizen’s Financial News Service & TIF Report.” Please read over this post by Tom and let him know if and how you’d like to be involved, or share whatever questions you may have with him.

You can add a comment here on the blog, or help develop the proposal at CivicEvolution at http://ncdd.civicevolution.org/proposal/10116. See all the proposals that are being developed at http://ncdd.civicevolution.org.

From Tom…

I’m a Chicago based educator and organizer obsessed with helping people become leaders and makers of history. I’m a strong believer in and practitioner of grassroots democracy and my first voter registration campaign was on my college campus in 1972, following the passage of the 26th Amendment. I’ve been in Chicago since 1980 and I’ve worked on a wide range of economic development, community empowerment, advocacy and political campaigns. Over the past few years I’ve developed a civic practice of speaking about the Commons and I’ve organized a few campaigns to stop privatization schemes and promote collaborations across a wide spectrum of parties to come together to protect public assets.

I was a co-leader of the No Games Chicago campaign in 2009 that brought together advocates, concerned citizens and educators to work to stop the 2016 Olympics from coming here. That work took me all over the city (and eventually to Switzerland, to the HQ of the International Olympic Committee) and gave me a chance to talk with people in almost every ward about what THEIR vision for the future of CHicago was about and how THEY would like to spend $5 billion in public funds.

Now I’m helping to leverage my 30 years of education, organizing and collaborative experience here to create a new store front space for civic innovation, the CivicLab (www.civiclab.us). The CivicLab will bring activists, educators and practitioners of civic engagement together to teach, do research and build tools that will accelerate community improvement efforts.

One of our first projects is the TIF Illumination Project. This project seeks collaborators to investigate, illuminate and explain Tax Increment Finance (TIF) Programs on a community-by-community basis. Why? Because TIFs extract billions of dollars in property taxes from cities and municipalities all across the USA (in every state but two) every year. This is an obscure and often corrupt process that showers public tax dollars on private companies and large corporations in the name of economic development. This is a top-down, clout-driven process that we would like to expose and open the door for citizens to have a much greater say on how their tax dollars are spent and how their communities are to be “developed.”

We are proposing a massive crowdsourcing citizen-powered investigation and education project. We are combining data gathering, coding, mapping, visualization, investigative reporting, crowdsourcing and community organizing. There are TIFs in 48 of the 50 states and so, what we build for Chicago will be applicable to the entire country. We’ve already started in Chicago with the 27th Ward. You can see some of the early results at http://tifreports.com/27th-ward.

We’d like to know: Are people doing community investigations of local government finance, participatory budgeting, using technology to explain complex government programs and popular education efforts to involve folks in the way local governments operate? Please visit our project web site at the Catalyst Awards and let us know what you think – would this work in your community?

Sandy Heierbacher on FacebookSandy Heierbacher on LinkedinSandy Heierbacher on Twitter
Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

  More Posts  

Join In!

We always encourage a lively exchange of ideas, whether online or off. Questions? Please feel free to contact us directly.

  1. Tom – I’m not seeing a clear connection in this project to dialogue and deliberation? Am I missing something? This seems more like an advocacy/activism project than one focused on dialogue and deliberation.

    • Tom Tresser says:

      Sandy, you are right. This is a project of investigation, civic engagement, financial literacy, critiquing given top-down urban policy, involving citizens in local government finance and exposing tax give-aways to big business while the city shuts public health clinics and public schools. It is activism and education and organizing. If that is not dialog and deliberation as you have defined it, then this project is not a good fit for the Catayst Awards.

  2. Also, Tom, this seems like a pretty developed project that you’re simply looking for NCDD members to support or sign onto. As you know, the Catalyst Awards were designed to encourage NCDD members to form teams to work on projects that move our field forward in ways individual members cannot do on their own. How are you hoping to involve NCDD members in this project specifically? How do you see this working as a team project, and in what way will it move the dialogue and deliberation field forward? These are questions you’ll need to answer in your final proposal, so I thought I’d ask them here as well to encourage you to get clear on them.

    • Tom Tresser says:

      I’m looking for collaborators for civic investigations and local government budget participatory efforts. Tax Increment Finance is a good framework to support a nation-wide effort to investigate, explain and critique how our property taxes are being used and abused. I don’t know if it will advance the field of d&d but it will help citizens across the USA understand how/why/who is getting tens of billions of public dollars and encourage them to re-direct that process. Our project may not be a good fit for this program. That being said, I still would like to connect with other civic practitioners who are interested in this work. See http://www.civiclab.us and http://www.tifreports.com.

  3. I want to respond to your question, Tom, by saying that in our local community, there are DEFINITELY people who would be interested in this.

    I don’t know about the “how this fits into NCDD” part… but… here is something I wrote, about how I see the connection between d&d and social change… http://wp.me/p1W2ZK-g

Post Your Reply!

Click here to cancel reply.