'We're the office of yes': Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics aims to be public/private incubator for problem-solving - Technical.ly Philly

Oct. 15, 2012 10:31 am

‘We’re the office of yes’: Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics aims to be public/private incubator for problem-solving

There’s a new office in City Hall, but it doesn’t sound like the stodgy bureaucracy you might expect. City of Philadelphia’s new Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics Co-director Story Bellows calls the new office a public/private partnership, which means that you can help. If you want to get involved with the Mayor’s Office of […]

The Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics hopes to change the way city government solves problems. Here's City Hall in 1930. Photo from phillyhistory.org

There’s a new office in City Hall, but it doesn’t sound like the stodgy bureaucracy you might expect.

City of Philadelphia’s new Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics

Co-director Story Bellows calls the new office a public/private partnership, which means that you can help. If you want to get involved with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, reach out to Story Bellows at story.bellows AT phila.gov and Jeff Friedman at jeff.friedman AT phila.gov.

The small office, with its two co-directors and two temporary staffers, will test out new ways of solving old city problems. It hopes to inject this spirit of innovative problem-solving into the city’s many agencies. And get this, the mayor wants them to fail — fast, and learn, of course.

“The mayor said if we don’t fail, we’re not trying hard enough,” says co-director Story Bellows. “And we’ve certainly taken that to heart.”

Inspired by Boston’s office of the same name, the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics is bringing the startup mentality into City Hall. Most city departments are running programs and can’t spend their days thinking up new ways to improve quality of life in the city, Bellows says. That’s where Bellows and her co-director Jeff Friedman come in.

“We’re the office of ‘yes,” Bellows says she and Friedman like to joke.

Story Bellows is co-director of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. She moved to Philly from Washington, D.C. six months ago to join Mayor Nutter’s team.

They know there are Philadelphians who are already working on innovative ways to make the city better. Bellows says her office, branding itself as a public/private partnership (much like the Open Access Philly network), wants to be the bridge between those problem-solvers and city government.

Advertisement

The office’s first project was piloting an effort to crowdfund the city’s tree planting campaign with startup Citizinvestor. Next up is sharing Code for America-built civic input tool Textizen with the city’s departments (the Planning Commission piloted the tool) and launching Neighborhow, a Code for America-built guide of neighborhood best practices.

While the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics is currently working as part of the Mayor’s Office and doesn’t have its own budget, Bellows says an executive order to officially create a separate office is in the works.

Jeff Friedman is co-director of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. He previously held the title of Philly’s Manager of Civic Innovation and Participation.

Bellows previously worked in Washington, D.C. as the Director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design. She moved to Philly six months ago to join the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. Friedman previously held the title of Philly’s Manager of Civic Innovation and Participation. He was also former Chief Technology Officer Allan Frank‘s chief of staff and started working for Philly’s city government when he graduated from law school. [Updated, see below]

For more, check out this article on TechPresident.

Updated 10:54 a.m. 10/15/12: Jeff Friedman has not worked for the city since graduating law school. Rather, he started working for the city after law school and spent seven years as a consultant to governments across the country before returning to city government.

-30-
JOIN THE COMMUNITY, BECOME A MEMBER
Already a member? Sign in here
Connect with companies from the Technical.ly community
New call-to-action

Advertisement

Why this Radnor-based VC firm thinks impact investing is on the rise

Government social is the broccoli of the internet

The Philly courts website is finally back up

SPONSORED

Philly

Why this dev planted roots at The Philadelphia Inquirer after starting her career abroad

Philadelphia, PA

Technical.ly Match

Web Manager

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

PromptWorks

Senior Software Engineer

Apply Now
Chesterrbrook, PA

Deacom

Software Quality Analyst

Apply Now

What Data Jawn taught us about the opioid crisis, City budgets and cartoons

The office that oversees the City’s tech teams is in transition

This month in Technical.ly history: The evolution of OpenDataPhilly

SPONSORED

Philly

Meet these 10 hiring companies at Super Meetup

Philadelphia

Vistar Media

Front End Engineer

Apply Now
Philadelphia

Vistar Media

Sr. Software Engineer

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA - Center City

Odessa

Sr. Project Manager

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Philadelphia

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!