Civics as startup: Local startup founders form Portland Independent Chamber of Commerce

I don’t think I’m going to risk blowing anyone’s mind with the following statement: a number of our existing models for civic engagement are in dire need of a refresh. I know. Shocking. But it’s rare for startup minded types to spend time and energy on that sort of thing. Unless you’re in Portland.

We’ve been lucky to see people wrestling with this issue on both the startup side and the municipal side. With a willingness to try new things. Adopt new processes. And—from time to time—circumvent archaic and unnecessary ways of doing things.

With that in mind, I wanted to highlight the latest effort from the startup side of the fence. A rethinking of the Chamber of Commerce. Meet the Portland Independent Chamber of Commerce (PICOC).

Today we are announcing the Portland Independent Chamber of Commerce (PICOC). PICOC (pronounced “peacock”) is a group of civically minded founders, investors, and community leaders who believe that by drawing attention to important issues, and providing a clear call to action, we can make a difference in shaping the future of our city.

We are not disruptors of civil society. We are stewards.

For the next ten months we will draw attention to issues that impact the future of our city, issues like affordable housing, sustainable transportation, inclusive and diverse employment opportunities, homelessness, and education. Our guest authors will explain why each issue matters and offer a concrete call to action that can be met within a single month. Sometimes it might be funding scholarships or a campaign. Other times it might be showing up at a meeting, or signing a petition. Whatever the issue, we’ll raise it with potential solutions on offer.

We will leverage all available media outlets to effect change in this city we love — that’s something we’ll need your help with, too. Most importantly, we want to be held accountable. At the end of the year, we’ll let you know what we accomplished and what remains to be done.

While many cities and towns have their best and brightest focused on finding ways to get someone else to do the tasks your parents used to do for you when you were in kindergarten, it’s really nice to see these smart and influential Portland entrepreneurs putting their efforts into something like this.

Here’s hoping this is another example of how we avoid creating the “next Silicon Valley” and instead focus on building the next great Portland.

If this sound interesting to you, read more about the Portland Independent Chamber of Commerce.

[Full disclosure: I have publicly endorsed this effort.]