A seventeen-year-old from Seattle was sick of how our political financing works and wanted to overcome the complicated systems that are involved in
the financing of these businesses, so he decided to create ‘Greenhouse’. It is a browser extension that has changed the way people who are
interested in finding the political campaign finance data of a politician accomplish their task; under the motto which reads, “Some are red. Some
are blue. All are green.”
This free plug-in is currently available on Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox, and here is how it works: Once you have downloaded the plug-in from
all you need to do is hover the mouse over the name of the Congress member on a webpage and Greenhouse will come up with all
the online financing data available, displayed in a scorecard-like fashion as a pop-up.
“Back in [the] 7th grade I gave a presentation on corporate person hood and ever since then I have been really interested in that issue,” Nick
said in an online interview. “I think the one problem is that the sources of income for members of congress haven’t been simple and easily
accessible when people have needed it. More recently, I’ve been teaching myself how to code, and I thought that something like Greenhouse that puts
the data at people’s fingertips would be a perfect solution. It really is the intersection of these two passions of mine—coding and politics. I
made it after school and on weekends on my computer.”
Did we mention he is self taught in computer coding and spent ten months building Greenhouse? Greenhouse uses data from the previous full election
cycle from 2012. The reason being is simple – that is the most recent and complete set of data available to him. But the plug-in does provide access
to recent 2014 information by simply clicking on the name of the politician, this data is made available via www.opensecrets.org...
instance, four point eight percent of Representative Nancy Pelosi’s (from the district of California) contributions are from small donors. The same
goes for outgoing Representative, Eric Cantor.
“Even kids at my age are able to see the data and recognize its problems, we’ll be growing up in this political system. As I went through the
process and entered the information, what stood out to me is the scale of issue. I am intending to update the data as a whole later in the election
cycle as the information available from 2014 are more complete. These are updates I am currently working on; as well as thinking of other ways I can
expand the tool,” says Nick.
With United States politics swimming in a lot of corporate money, so much so that it pretty much is a form of a power structure in which power
effectively rests with a small number of people, sometimes it can be hard to keep track of them. But Nick hopes that when a new bill comes up in the
news, like a new drug, environmental or health care policy, people will use Greenhouse to gain more insight into and explain why a politician might
be stressing the ‘new policy’.