OurSociety Educator’s Companion

By Ron Rivers,

OurSociety Educator’s Companion


Companion Summary:   OurSociety Inc. is a non-partisan, non-political 501(c)(3) charitable organization. EIN number 82-1919398.  Our purpose is to promote civic engagement in local communities and open opportunities for more people to participate in democracy through the use of our free technological solutions.  As part of our organization’s purpose, we work with High Schools located in the communities participating in the OurSociety platform to foster discussion and exploration of what civic engagement is and why it is important.  Below we outline how our program and how it coincides with the New Jersey Social Studies standards as outlined in the 2014 State Standards Document.

Learning Objective:  Students will learn the value and importance of civic engagement in a modern age from the perspective of both local communities and collective national engagement.  Cooperating with local elected officials we will demonstrate to the students that community engagement has a tangible impact which can contribute to the greater good of society.  In addition, we introduce them to the OurSociety platform to demonstrate that becoming involved is easier than ever thanks to technology.

Seminar Summary:  Seminars are broken into two sessions, an initial engagement and then a follow-up engagement to review the students’ contributions.  The first seminar includes an open discussion about civic engagement exploring what it is and the problems it can solve both at a national and local level.  At the conclusion of the first seminar, we will ask for educator cooperation in assigning an assignment geared towards community improvement.  Students will enter groups and identify one thing that can be improved within the community and/or become involved in the public discussion about an ongoing community project.  After completing the project within an assigned time frame students will submit their ideas to the township through the OurSociety platform – allowing both elected officials and community members to read and review the plans.  Afterwards, we will return for a second seminar with an elected official (Council Member or Mayor) to discuss their submissions from the communities’ perspective.

Our program meets the following state standards for education (NJ): http://www.state.nj.us/education/cccs/2014/ss/standards.pdf

Social Studies – 6.3 Active Citizenship in the 21st Century:

  • Section 6.3.12.A.1: Develop a plan for public accountability and transparency in government related to a particular issue(s) and share the plan with appropriate government officials.
  • Chronological Thinking: Analyze how change occurs through time due to shifting values and beliefs as well as technological advancements and changes in the political and economic landscape.
  • Critical Thinking: Gather relevant information from multiple sources representing a wide range of views (including historians and experts) while using the date, context, and corroborative value of the sources to guide the selection.
  • Critical Thinking: Gather relevant information from multiple sources representing a wide range of views (including historians and experts) while using the date, context, and corroborative value of the sources to guide the selection.
  • Presentational Skills: Take a position on a current public policy issue and support it with historical evidence, reasoning, and constitutional analysis in a written and/or oral format.

OurSociety Content Creation: Designing Visuals to Define Plans

By Ron Rivers,

One way to present your Policies, Plans, and Visions in a visual and easy to follow manor is to create a Project Tree. Project Trees are a goal setting and planning tool designed to clearly define the measured objectives needed to accomplish a specific milestone or project that you are focused on. Start by breaking down your overall goal/objective into measurable and distinct layers that serve as checkpoints for your progress. They are a great visual to help your potential voters understand how detailed your plan is and will provide more accountability and transparency in your campaign. Below is an outline of the process of creating a Project Tree for a specific goal:


A great tool for creating visuals like the one above is the website http://draw.io.


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OurSociety Content Creation: The Basics

By Ron Rivers,

We strive to help shift the voting populace from ideological party-based voting to a more informed issue-based paradigm. In keeping aligned with our purpose OurSociety requires the information submitted by political candidates and existing elected representatives to be clearly explained, numerically accurate, and free of negative and/or disparaging comments about your competitors. All information submitted will be reviewed to through our citizen volunteer Fact Checkers ensure that included content falls within our guidelines. Below we break down some basic rules you should follow to ensure the content you submit is published without delay.


Profile Information Policies, Plans, Vision Creating your Societal Value Profile
The Biography section of your profile is a chance to let people know about your education, experience, and the recognition you have achieved.

All of the information submitted should be accurate and verifiable.

The Policies, Plans, and Vision section can be broken down into two distinct sections; text and video.

Text: Submitting white papers about the policies and plans you would enact if elected and/or about your vision for a better future.

Video: Producing short videos summarizing your policies, plans, and visions. Keeping them aligned with your text is important.

Policies/Plans: Informational documents that explain your policies and plans in detail. These will be reviewed and fact-checked prior to publishing.

Vision: These documents are your opportunity to share your ideas about a better tomorrow with your potential constituents. Think big! This is an opportunity to get people excited.

OurSociety incorporates detailed value matching algorithms to help Citizen Users who may not have the time to read your detailed policies, plans, and visions connect with you. The method is similar to those used on dating websites.

You should answer the questions as honestly as possible, focusing on your true feelings and not what you may believe the constituents want to hear. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it will allow you to connect deeper with sections of constituents.

We believe our data will show that citizen users are more likely to chose the candidate with very high rankings in the few things they care most about than the candidate who they match ~70% of the time on all subjects.

No users can view your specific answers to the questions proposed.  We value both the privacy and freedom to express individual perspectives for all of our members.


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