I'm sitting there near you, people watching and skimming the news, outraged and struggling with feelings of powerless, when a woman in a distinctive scarf glides into the cafe.
The glint in her eye catches my attention. She looks determined and out of place. So I keep my head down, hoping not to be too obvious while I watch unfold what is about to unfold.
Life is a politically charged, protests are happening weekly and my first thought is that she might be one of those people who cajole strangers to sign a petition to save the whales or defend human rights or some other admirable but toothless proposal.
I am right that she's gathering petition signatures. But instead of soliciting us collectively, she scans the room, finds the person she is looking for (he is waving courteously and seems like a nice fellow), hands him a clipboard, watches him sign, taps her phone and abruptly leaves.
I am intrigued. So just as casually as I can, I ask the guy what just happened. He tells me all about Ballot app.
Later I download Ballot. What I see changes my political life, or how I channel my rage into social change.
Opening the Ballot app on my phone I see a list of radical proposals vying for signatures. A proposal needs around 600,000 signatures to get on the ballot for a state-wide vote in California (where I live).
All kinds of proposals are being made and debated.
A few that vie for my support: California should institute a citizen income; Corporations chartered in California should be required to have a board of directors that is 50% female; the state should institute radically new forms of decision making processes to craft legislation. And my instant favorite: the state should become its own independent country.
The magic happened when I picked a couple proposals to sign. Five minutes later a man in the same distinctive blue scarf I'd seen earlier walked up and kindly collected my signature.
Wow. I'd picked some majorly revolutionary proposals — the kind of constitutional amendments that would redistribute wealth and power — and within minutes I was able to move those proposals one step closer to being actually up for a vote.
My identity and voter registration was already verified by Ballot. And because Ballot supplied signature collectors with my location — similar to how Uber summons me a driver — the process was smooth and cost efficient.
Collectors that used to harangue people on the streets, now busily dart from activist to activist throughout the city. They now earn a nice income collecting signatures for an ideological rainbow of proposals.
It wasn't long before everyone was talking about, and using, Ballot. Especially when we collectively gasped when hundreds of thousands of signatures were collected for explicitly revolutionary constitutional amendments that were frighteningly democratic.
Ballot opened a Pandora’s Box. Some people were scared of how it would change things. Others exhilarated by the possibilities.
I knew there was no going back.