via Stimulus Watch: Keeping an Eye on Economic Recovery Spending. was built to to help the new administration keep its pledge to invest stimulus money smartly, and to hold public officials to account for the taxpayer money they spend. We do this by allowing you, citizens around the country with local knowledge about the proposed “shovel-ready” projects in your city, to find, discuss and rate those projects. These projects are not part of the stimulus bill. They are candidates for funding by federal grant programs once the bill passes. Learn more by reading the FAQs.

How can you contribute? Find a project that interests you, or about which you have special knowledge, and let us know what you think. You can find projects by searching or by browsing by locality or program type. Once you find a program, there are three things you can do: 1) vote on whether you believe the project is critical or not; 2) edit the project’s description and points in favor or against, and 3) post a comment in the conversation about the project.

What an excellent idea!

I’ll tell you why these types of projects excite me. There are a class of political activists out there who are completely invested in cynicism. These are the people who say Barack Obama is the same as George W Bush. These are the people who rightly point out how the system is rigged, but wrongly stop at the point of describing the systemic problem and rarely offer any hope of changing that system. They say we’re doomed: always have been, always will be, because nothing changes.

That is not true.

What has most certainly changed is the ability of citizens to discover one another, share information and coordinate action through new organizational tools. It used to be that only the robber-barons had the ability to organize and act quickly, but we’ve all seen that Facebook, text messaging and other social media tools can help tip the balance back in favor of we the people.

If we use it.

This stimulus package will be massive and is important. We can cross our fingers and hope that it turns out alright, that the absurd levels of favoritism and pork get axed out, that credible projects get funded… or we can act collectively to shine a light on the process and contribute to keeping this legislation accountable.

I’m in favor of the latter. How about you?

Note: we’ve added to our central column “Change Action Center.” Please let us know about other tools and services that empower us to be the change we want to see.

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