Government & Policymaking

Actionable Insights – California Water Crisis


Every Voice Engaged launched the 2015 Common Ground for California Water project to collaboratively engage the citizens of California in substantive discussions around creating and implementing sustainable water policy. Our goal is to engage people throughout the state, from tech gurus in Silicon Valley to farmers in the Central Valley, to work together to find a solution.

The CA Water Pilot Project convened with committed California citizens who were ready to help prove that small-group, online forums focused on solutions to our water crisis are extremely informative, rewarding, engaging and ultimately scalable.

This project generated an unprecedented amount of information directly from citizens who will be engaged in carefully moderated forums — data that is not traditionally collected in a collaborative manner.

The data produced in this method gives policymakers a clear understanding of California residents needs and wants. Residents will also gain a better understanding of each other’s positions, and a personal and macro-level understanding of the drought’s effect on the state.



Participatory Budgeting – City of San José


Our participatory budget programs including Budget Games, Zero-Based Budgeting, and Community Decides have been successfully implemented in cities around the world and over many years by San Jose, CA starting in 2011. We used serious, social, collaborative games and techniques, including early iterations of Common Ground for Action, to bring ordinary citizens into the conversation with governments, nonprofits and industry to solve intractable problems.


The 2015-2016 District 3 Participatory Budgeting project emphasized citizen input by soliciting ideas from residents using an open-source mapping application for crowdsourced info-gathering, “Shareabouts“, shaping these ideas into projects, and then using Decision Engine to allow residents to directly prioritize how the city will spend $100K.


The Citywide Budget Engagement project of 2016 enabled San Jose residents to collaboratively prioritize how the city should invest the portion of its budget devoted to programs and services that affect San José’s neighborhoods. This was “zero-based” budgeting opportunity in which the budget allocation from the prior fiscal year stayed the same, but the set of programs and services were changeable based on resident feedback. We ran the biggest in-person session attended by over 200 residents and invited residents to participate online the week of Feb 22, 2016.