Capitalizing on a campaign in which bottom up economic justice was at the fore, a coalition of New York-based philanthropies–led by the Open Society Foundations along with nine others–is hosting a citywide conversation to help shape the agenda for incoming-mayor Bill de Blasio. The monthlong event, Talking Transition, hopes to engage New York’s eight million residents in an open process to establish priorities and policies for the next four years. Through interactive discussions, panels, and activities throughout the month of November, Talking Transition seeks to make sure that the voice of everyday people continues to be heard after the next mayor takes office. Each day groups of New Yorkers will gather to participate in moderated discussions on the city’s future.  

With this effort to broaden the conversation on future policy, Talking Transition could serve as model for after-election activities in other municipalities and states by taking what is usually an elite conversation and transforming it into a more democratic one.

Yesterday I participated in a Talking Transition panel led by the North Star Fund’s Hugh Hogan on what the next mayor should learn from Hurricane Sandy.  My remarks focused on the fact that city needs to reimagine what’s valuable and who’s valuable, recognizing that the working poor are at the core of the city’s future. Recommendations from each panel will be compiled and passed on to the incoming mayor’s team. Other topics to be covered over the next ten days range from health, to public safety to economic justice to education.  A full list of what’s to be discussed with times can be found at

Along with these set piece conversations, New Yorkers are invited to come in and register their thoughts and priorities through Talking Transition’s interactive kiosks. They can also do so online through Twitter @TalkNYC2013, on Facebook and on Instagram with #talkingtransition.