Our fearless leaders and co-founders, Adam Lowry and
Eric Ryan, recently came back from a trip out to the White House (it
was Adam’s second invitation to DC this year!) where they received an
exclusive invitation to speak among other young entrepreneurs about the
future of US economic growth. We asked Adam what the experience was
Early last week Eric and I got a call from the White House. They were gathering a group of about 30 young entrepreneurs (including Mark Ecko from Ecko Unlimited, Evan Williams from Twitter, Aaron Patzer of Mint.com, Tony Hsieh from Zappos), to what we first thought were to put together thoughts on policy, but as we later learned, that was more to get the juices flowing than to actually be what we would discuss. The real reason, we soon discovered, was that they wanted to establish a relationship with us that we could mutually benefit from in the future.
Michael Strautmanis (Chief of Staff to Valerie Jarrett, Assistant to the President on Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison) and David Washington (Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison), who we then soon met, explained they had lots of ideas, and they knew exactly which policies were staid or ineffective, and what new policies should replace them. The problem, they explained, was that the Administration knew what to do, but couldn’t overcome the entrenched interests in Washington (the lobbyists and such). What they needed was the leaders of New Economy Business, us, to help them. They wanted to be able to make an example of us to build a groundswell of public opinion that getting behind businesses creating social equity and environmental good while they create economic growth was the way to use one solution to get out of our dual problems of economic collapse and environmental disaster. Cool.
They asked us to do a couple things:
• Act as a filter for the best ideas from our communities, and to cycle those back to the Administration
• Send examples and case studies of business doing things right, and the Stimulus package at work, so we could improve upon it
• Give them ideas on how to make government more open and transparent.
On the last of those, I sent in ideas about how to publish policy debates and decisions on “transparency.gov”, to use us and others in the Administration to get out and use the news media to tell the transparency story in order to get more people engaged in what they are doing, and to integrate the transparency message across all the everyday ways we interact with government. Everything from tax bills to the DMV.
I am still figuring out how, but I will be finding ways to be that community liaison out here in San Francisco. Now is our time to create change, and I’m not going to let the opportunity pass me by. If you have an idea, let me know. I want to hear it….