By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager
Like a lot of other interesting and novel ideas, the impetus for the innovative website 4US.com sprung from an unusual source.
“Being a part of Hurricane Katrina lit the fuse for something bigger,” founder and CEO Dana Buchawiecki says from Dubai where he’s currently the Director Middle East and Africa MV Global Transport Logistics.
“The fire was further fueled by seeing the command and control system that was in place and how it took weeks to get anything going in a major American urban center,” he said referencing the influential time when he worked as a FEMA Operations Manager, responsible for evacuation efforts during Hurricanes Katrina/Rita in 2005.
It was this recognition of a disconnect that motivated him to get involved and lead him eventually to create this website he hopes will re-engage the average American in the democratic process. 4US.com is a social-political website bridging the gap between voter and
government. It has a variety of functions including allowing voters to read and analyze complicated legislation and providing real time updates on House and Senate votes. The site also lets you vote on the issues you care most about and then compare your results with your representatives’.
Buchawiecki’s frustration with how the system was letting down critical transport needs grew until 2009, when he gained a different perspective after leaving the United States.
“It wasn’t until I came to Dubai in early 2009 that I found myself outside the bubble of the U.S.,” he said. “I got to see the United States through a looking glass and how people were interacting with each other from afar. When I wasn’t buffered by the media coverage and talking points, I became really furious and disgusted.”
It was then he focused his energies and 4US.com was born. In the beginning he was motivated to find out how to get involved with Congress and the bills they passed that affected his life as well as the lives of his fellow Americans. He knew little about the political process at first.
“What they did was the unknown to me so I started doing research. I put together a framework for what I really wanted to do which was compare how I would have voted on bills as opposed to my elected officials.”
The result was a way to match those votes and a metric to hold elected officials accountable during the election cycle.
To facilitate a town hall atmosphere, 4US.com also has a discussion board as well as comprehensive lists of bills and representatives. The end goal is help Americans stay better informed on the legislations that will affect them the most so they can make better decisions and affect real change.
“The whole idea was a compatibility score that was statistically driven and one representatives couldn’t get around,” Buchawiecki said. Each bill has an overview and timeline as well as sponsors and commentary sections and a place to cast your vote.