If you’re a civic hacker then you know nothing brings developers together like the shared experience of solving a hard problem. But for you, “solving problems” is probably almost synonymous with “writing code.” What’s not always clear is how people who aren’t developers can work with Brigades to aid with pressing civic issues.
One of the great things about the project I work on, LocalWiki, is that it’s not at it’s core a hacking project. We encourage you to hack it. LocalWiki has enabled people to document everything in their community — local news and local history to lost pets. Use it to look up just about anything and if it’s not there simply “add a page” — who knew hacking was this easy!
In the same way that hacking with friends brings you together, LocalWiki has brought communities together with a shared purpose and goal. I believe that we all have a deep, fundamental desire to share and help our community. But people want to know their time and effort is valued — that it’s part of something larger, something that can benefit their community for years to come. And people want to know they can contribute just a little bit and have it help.
With that in mind, I want to give you a couple of recent examples of ordinary people hanging out, having fun, and building LocalWiki projects.
San Francisco Parklet Ride
A couple weeks ago we were slated to have an absolutely beautiful weekend here in San Francisco, and I thought, “you know, it’s gonna be a beautiful weekend — it’d be great if we could just bike around, take pictures, enjoy the beautiful day, and at the end of the day get on our laptops and work on the soon-to-be-launched SF LocalWiki project”
So I just threw up a Facebook event, invited some friends and came up with a little plan: document all theparklets we encountered on our bike ride through the city.
We did just that. We biked around, had lots of coffee, ate some delicious baked goods, and took pictures of a the parklets we encountered. We randomly encountered one of the parklet’s primary designers and even found a parklet that features a totally awesome beanbag seats and pacman.
At the end of the day we’d made a few pages on our LocalWiki, but more importantly, we shared a fun experience together.
Kitchener LocalWiki Workshop
This is Steve:
CAFKA, a public space art organization, and held a two-evening workshop for artists and residents in Kitchener, Ontario on building a LocalWiki for Kitchener.
After starting out with the basics of how LocalWiki works, the workshop immediately got people out into the streets — participants toured the city, collecting information about their favorite places, insider tips, and popular spots. After running about, everybody reconvened and had a big LocalWiki writing party at the art center.more than 221 pages, 167 photos, and 130 maps in just a few days, the KitchenerWiki project is off to a great start!
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This post originally appeared on Blogging for America, the Code for America blog.
Code for America helps governments work better for everyone with the people and the power of the web. Founded in 2009, Code for America held its inaugural fellowship in 2011 with 19 fellows and three cities.
Through the Fellowship program Code for America provides an opportunity for the web generation to give back by connecting developers and designers with city governments, to innovate. In 2012, Code for America has grown to connecting 26 fellows with eight cities.
The Code for America Accelerator supports disruptive civic startups, and Brigade helps organize hackers locally to reuse and deploy civic software. Code for America is reimagining government for the 21st century.
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