how to use a sunlight foundation grant in michigan’s 15th

I don’t have the time to take it on right now, but I’ve just been informed that the Sunlight Foundation is offering mini-grants to individuals and organizations looking to increase government transparency, etc. Here’s how they describe the program:

The Sunlight Foundation is offering “mini-grants” of $1,000 to $5,000 to fund original ideas, tools, Web sites and bloggers. The work of any recipient should be focused on creating a better, more democratic and dynamic relationship between members of Congress and the citizens they represent. We encourage applications from existing small local nonprofits and Web sites, from offshoots of national groups, from individuals and from informal groups of citizens.

Applications for mini-grants will be judged on how closely they fit with Sunlight’s mission of using technology to enable citizens to learn more about Congress and its activities in order to reduce corruption and ensure greater transparency in government. Projects will also be judged on their creativity, their likelihood of success and their ability to grow or be replicated. As a rule, we do not award grants for salaries or general overhead expenses, but do for technology upgrades. Grants are available to augment existing projects or to jumpstart new ones…

I’m thinking that the local blogosphere could use something like a DingellWatch site where several community reporters, like myself, could post information about our Congressman, his positions, etc. I just checked and DingellWatch.org is available if someone out there wants to put the effort in. I’d be happy to cover him on global warming… And I’m not kidding. I think something like this would be an incredibly useful and powerful tool. I’d love to have one RSS-enabled resource where I could track my member of Congress and exchange thoughts with other constituents. Michigan’s 15th district, from what I can tell, is incredibly dysfunctional. People here in Ypsi don’t know what people in Monroe are up to, and people in Dearborn don’t have any idea what’s going on in Ann Arbor. A site like the one I’m envisioning would draw all of those people together into one online community where they could share ideas, build coalitions, etc… Think about it… You know you want that $5k.

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4 Comments

  1. KT
    Posted October 24, 2007 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Sounds like a good idea. Every congressional district should have a community-run site where constituents can express themselves and discuss policy.

  2. Posted October 24, 2007 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    And I’m in the part of Dearborn that has John Conyers as my Rep, which is just crazy.

    I think it’s a great idea, except that people are so lazy today will they even read it?

  3. mark
    Posted October 24, 2007 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    I think it would work, and, yeah, I think people would read it, but I just don’t have the time or energy right now. I was kind of hoping that someone out there, however, might.

    And I should add that I didn’t mean to suggest that it would be anti-Dingell in any way. I was just thinking that we in the local progressive blogosphere needed someplace to build community across this oddly shaped district of ours. Dingell would obviously be the ficus, as he’s our Rep, but I wasn’t envisioning that it would have any anti-Dingell bias.

  4. Bill W
    Posted November 6, 2007 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    All Congressional votes should be recorded. This information should be cross referenced to congressional contributors and to the specific bills (which should be analyzed to see who/what organization benefits). In this way, we could see how much money it takes to get influence with our representatives.

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