Last year, a promising solution to a vexing problem in Washington, D.C., worked its way into the city’s policymaking machinery. But it didn’t come from Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), Mayor Adrian Fenty or school chancellor Michelle Rhee, some of the usual suspects when it comes to D.C. policy.
Instead, it came from Ward 8 resident Joy Doyle, who grabbed attention and support for her litter-fighting proposal — an innovative adopt-a-block strategy — through a nonprofit group called DC Appleseed.
The organization, part of a national network of Appleseed Centers, connects city residents with their government leaders and in the process tries to drum up creative ways to address D.C. issues.
Doyle submitted her idea — “Capital Clean-Up Project” — to “Solving DC Problems 2006,” a project of DC Appleseed. More than 1,500 area residents submitted ideas on how to fix problems facing the city. Appleseed’s Web site called Doyle’s winning idea “an environmentally conscious initiative that will merge District schools, faith-based organizations, and communities in the fight against litter.”
After witnessing the success of the 2006 problem-solving campaign, city officials asked DC Appleseed to continue its effort this year. As a result, DC Appleseed will administer “Solving DC Problems 2007,” seeking the most original, creative and practical solutions to the specific pressing issues in the District.
“It’s a great thing that the district government wants to involve the people of the city directly in what its doing. This is a chance for citizens literally to have a seat at the table to decide on things that are going to immediately affect their lives,” said Walter Smith, executive director of the DC Appleseed Center.
This year Appleseed used its Web site to identify issues the mayor and his team will discuss in an upcoming “CapStat” session — when top policymakers in the government discuss how to solve specific problems. As part of the CapStat program, residents can begin a dialogue around three specific issues among themselves and with city officials. The three topics of interest this year are affordable housing, fire and emergency services and substance abuse and treatment.
“The goal of the CapStat program is to solve problems by bringing transparency and accountability to District government so that we can deliver the best possible services to District residents,” Fenty said in a statement. “Residents often have direct knowledge of the problems we are working to correct and I look forward to their participation in helping us bring efficiency to everything our government does.”
Visit solvingdcproblems.com for more information on the project and to submit ideas.