I think we’re likely to see this more and more. As people develop a much stronger sense of community around specific issues through being able to connect to others who care about them easily through web tools, we’re going to see more and more cases where people feel more only empowered, but reinforced in their sense that something has to be done. There’s a diffusion of ownership, a sense of being individually capable of being an agent for a larger issue, that seems to be reinforced by internet tools, despite the media fuss over us all starting vacantly at screens and getting stupid.
Like a lot of the elements of this diffusion or decentralization of power (crowdfunding, tactical urbanism, etc.), I do think that three is a sea change going on here that will not be stoppable. Fighting against it, like the investigations into the Cleveland bike lanes, might succeed sometimes, at least for a while, but I think this is a symptom of a deep paradigm shift in how at least a significant number of people relate to their communities. The ones that succeed will be the ones that learn to deal with and harness this energetic, demanding, impatient, multi-faceted and intricately connected “public” and enable them to be meaningful and powerful actors. The communities that try to command and control this will drive away the people who are most capable of enabling the community to adapt.