New tool connects people, ideas, resources

by on Nov 23 2011
Photo: Adele Schneider

Teacher Brian Cohen (left) greets Mayor Nutter at the launch of Change by Us Philly.

This guest blog post comes from Brian Cohen, a blogger and School District of Philadelphia teacher.

Lights. Camera. Intimidation.

That's the way I felt standing in front of four video cameras and over a dozen reporters on Monday when the new Change By Us Philly website officially launched.

I was asked to come and speak from my experience using the social networking tool in order to find help and resources in providing laptops for my math classroom at the Academy at Palumbo.

I am a firm believer that technology can add value to a student's life in school if used correctly, and the city's new tool exemplifies that greatly. The city developed the tool through a collaborative process with CEOs for Cities, Local Projects, and Code for America. That process showcases the types of innovative opportunities available in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

How it works is simple: if you have an idea for how to improve Philadelphia, you post it. Once there, you can connect with people who might help you achieve your goal, provide some resources, or spark an interesting discussion. All the while, key people from City Hall and elsewhere are paying attention, and determining how they can assist.

For me, they simply provided a connection with the people over at Comcast's new Internet Essentials program, which supplies low-income residents of Philadelphia with cheap Internet access and low-cost computers. Many of my students might be able to benefit from this so I thought it was incredibly worthwhile. Now, I am continuing to network with people through the site, finding resources everywhere.

Change By Us Philly is a simple, open-source method of connecting people who have needs with people who have resources. It is a collaborative effort to make Philadelphia a greener, safer, and smarter city. I wholeheartedly support it and hope you can too.

The guest blog section is a place for people, other than our regular cast of bloggers, to share their views. (See our "About Our Blog" note at the top, right.) Got something you'd like to write about? Email us with a pitch, idea, or a completed post.