SeeClick Fix changed my life.

I have so many stories illustrating how SeeClickFix has changed my life, neighborhood and my city for the better so it’s quite hard to choose just one. But, I choose a simple but powerful example: neighborhood lighting and safety.

Our wonderful neighborhood, Wooster Square, sits right on the edge of downtown. Many neighbors do not have cars and walk and bike to work and play. Many choose Court Street as their path. It is direct, fast, and sections of the street are amazingly beautiful.  However, one stretch is dark and scary. It covers a train track and it littered with broken bottles and trash. At night, that stretch of Court Street is dangerous and treacherous, and over the summer and into the fall, many, many neighbors were assaulted and mugged here. Most assailants hid in the dark recesses of Court Street, using the unlit street to their advantage.

At the same time, there was a general increase in crime around the neighborhood. Neighbors contacted the police but were not happy with their response and the events did not stop. We decided to post the muggings and crimes on SCF and to see what happened. (http://www.seeclickfix.com/issues/9603) We had heard that posting to SCF has helped stop drug dealing in another neighborhood in our city so we thought it was worth a shot.

We encouraged neighbors to vote and comment on this issue. Our activity on SCF gained us attention from the Mayor’s Office and the press.

Today, the neighborhood is active and energized. We now know our neighborhood police officers and have received great attention and support from them and City Hall. Police are more visible and are very responsive. City Hall has responded creatively: solar lights soon to be installed.

And, since our posting on SCF and our neighborhood self-organization, assaults have slowly decreased and we haven’t had a mugging since late December.

I believe SCF gave our neighbors a tangible way to take action. Each vote or comment was sent right to City Hall, police, elected officials and other interested citizens. As long as we commented, complained, discussed and voted, these stakeholders were notified. SCF gave us an easy way to hold our elected officials and city government accountable while also inspiring us to organize ourselves. I also believe it gave City Hall a way to respond positively and proactively, and helped us build a working relationship with them.

At best, SCF helped us organize ourselves. Our neighborhood is more cohesive, more proactive, more engaged, more social, more responsible, and in the end, so is our city.

Thank you SeeClickFix!

SCF takes our block watch to City Hall

Last fall, we reinvigorated a block watch in the Wooster Square neighborhood of New Haven after an increase in muggings in the neighborhood.  We came together as a group to look for solutions and ways to partner with the police to help the situation.  It was our third meeting when we identified a few issues that might be contibuting to the crime in our neighborhood, a dark street and bridge and a need for increased police patrols.

At that same meeting, Ben Berkowitz from SeeClickFix came and demonstrated his amazing website.  There were a few users in our group already, but as he spoke, you could see all the lightbulbs go off in the room.  That night, I posted “Dark Court Street Bridge” on SeeClickFix, then emailed the block watch list with a link.  In a matter of days our issue soared to the top of the city’s issue list.  Next the local paper called to do a story, they had seen it on SeeClickFix.  Then we visited the Mayor and brought print outs of our posts.  Neighbors posted pictures, commented and voted.

Within one month, we had temporary lighting and a proposal from the city for the first ever solar lights in New Haven.  This is only one story of how using SeeClickFix enhances and supports the voices of citizens.  Our elected officials and city departments watch and respond.  As a neighborhood, we are ”watching.”  We feel empowered and heard.  Posting our lighting and mugging issues on SeeClickFix set off a chain reaction that has led to better police patrolling and arrests.

This is a video that top New Haven user Brian Tang created to help the New Haven Department of Traffic and Parking understand how a cycling track might look on Elm Street in New Haven.

The City has asked for the Elm City Coalitions help with feedback for improving the streets of New Haven. This is a great example of a citizen doing some fixing.

Here’s a link to the issue:

http://www​.seeclickf​ix.com/iss​ues/15932

See Click … Sold! On Democracy

See Click Fix has renewed my faith in local democracy.

I run a news website in New Haven. We found out quickly that news begins on See Click Fix, and we can find great stories there.

We noticed that people having trouble with potholes or crime, etc., were putting the information there first — and that city officials were responding.

One cop told me how he follows it every day to see what’s happening in the district he oversees. One day he saw a photo a neighbor posted about a prostitute who was working his corner; the cop made the bust within the day.

More recently I saw the community help keep track of a problem with missing mail. Eventually a neighborhood deli owner caught the thief in the act and led the cops to him. The community continued to come together through See Click Fix around that incident.

It’s not just government that responds: The vice-president of Yale went on See Click Fix the other day to respond to citizen concerns about an empty university-owned storefront, and to promise to do better.

Every day I see democracy in action on that site; as reporters we find stories there. And as citizens, we see community being built, one block at a time.