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Can news organizations solicit out-of-the-box ideas from the community to make San Francisco a more affordable place to live — without taking sides or advocating?
When covering contentious issues such as affordable housing, it is the custom of journalists to document the minutia of class conflicts, real estate transactions and incremental reform legislation. But this summer, the San Francisco Public Press, along with Shareable and other partners are taking an atypical approach, focusing on solutions instead of just the problems.
In addition to our online and print coverage of creative new ideas for big-impact, cost-effective and politically feasible solutions, we convened local independent experts, policymakers and community leaders for a daylong workshop on June 13 called “Hack the Housing Crisis,” at the Impact Hub SoMa. The idea is to use principles of design thinking to innovate, beyond the divides of discipline, political camp and vested interest that typify current conversations around the city’s housing policies. Join us and tweet about it: #housinghack @sfpublicpress.
We are doing this because readers have told us over and over that they want to hear more about ways they can help solve problems, not just read about what went wrong with a trusted institution. We look to the example set by the Solutions Journalism Network, as well as Journalism That Matters, for inspiration for how to do solutions-focused journalism that, while it endeavors to be independent and not cross over into advocacy, is still controversial in many newsrooms because it invites the community to help set the news agenda.
Housing is on everyone’s lips in San Francisco these days. What's less apparent to many is that the effects of the housing crisis have been felt unevenly across the income spectrum. Some examples:
Our independent reporting will take many forms through the month of June on the Public Press and Shareable websites, and in the summer Public Press print edition in July. Shareable, whose interest lies in exploring new ways to organize the economy, will co-publish many of these stories as a way to inform new ideas about housing equity through an ongoing effort called the Sharing Cities Network.
Below are some of the ideas that have emerged from discussions in the newsroom and from experts in a wide variety of fields we have interviewed. We are looking for more, and invite your participation. Check back for links to stories on out-of-the-box (but not implausible) ideas to make San Francisco affordable again.
— Noah Arroyo & Michael Stoll
Add Your Own Ideas ...
Whether or not you can attend Hack the Housing Crisis on June 13, please check off some of the ideas our editorial staff is researching or contribute your own ideas in the form below. We will use them to sharpen our reporting this summer and add discussion groups to the event.
Creative Commons image by Flickr user Håkan Dahlström
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