Crowdsourcing has become a hotly contested innovation paradigm in recent months, drawing highly polarized opinions. While its creative merit in design has been publicly decried in the recent GAP logogate scandal, platforms like Ushahidi, PatientsLikeMe and even Wikipedia are consistently affirming its value in civic engagement.

Give a Minute is a promising new platform harnessing the latter by asking entire cities for innovation ideas, then collecting and passing them on to the city's leadership for grassroots, citizen-driven yet streamlined civic change.

The project was developed by public space media design firm Local Projects in partnership with civic innovation lab CEOs for Cities, with funding from the Rockefeller and Knight Foundations.

The first pilot iteration launched in Chicago this week, with editions for Memphis, New York City and San Jose coming later this year.

Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Magazine, Design Observer and Huffington Post, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.