In my work as a Civic Engagement Manager, people often ask about civic innovation, civic technology and civic media: What is it? How can I get involved? Code for Boston’s National Day of Civic Hacking (NDoCH) is one way to answer these questions. The National Day of Civic Hacking is the embodiment of civic innovation: citizens working together to enhance the community we live in with new and creative ideas. NDoCH is a terrific way to explore civic innovation, get involved and have fun over the course of a weekend.
I sat down with Kristen Weber of Code for Boston to hear about the NDoCH activities planned for this upcoming weekend (June 5-7). I want to stress Kristen’s point below that this hackathon is for EVERYONE. You don’t have to be a programmer, developer or designer – varied perspectives and experiences are what make these events great. I hope to see you there!
- What is the National Day of Civic Hacking?
The National Day of Civic Hacking (or NDoCH) is a nationwide event that brings together technologists, government workers, community members, and concerned citizens to collaborate in a number of ways to improve their cities and communities. Locally – and with the generous support of Microsoft New England – Code for Boston is excited to announce that our NDoCH event will span Friday evening, June 5th through Sunday, June 7th at the Microsoft offices in Kendall Square.
We’ll kick things off Friday evening with an opening reception and welcoming address. Our overarching theme for the weekend is Community Engagement so, to that end, we’ll follow the opening remarks with project pitches that aim to address problems of community engagement and empowerment in our cities and municipalities. After project pitches, teams will form so that, come Saturday morning, participants can hit the ground running and start working to address community problems.
On Saturday, we’ll begin with breakfast followed by some panel discussions in focus areas. Teams will then have all day to collaborate and work on their projects before their pitches on Sunday.
This year, on Saturday evening, we’re trying something new by hosting a series of IGNITE-style talks at the Venture Café at Cambridge Innovation Center. The evening will run from 7-10 pm and features a generous donation of delicious local beverages from Aeronaut Brewing Co. of Somerville. We’re hoping for a lively, engaging evening of fast-paced, energetic talks from speakers ranging from Cambridge City Councillor Nadeem Mazen, to Holly St. Clair of MAPC, to Micah Martin of Resilient Coders (and many more!)
On Sunday, teams will gather once again at the Microsoft offices to finish up their project work and pitch their ideas, discussions, and projects to all event attendees. We can’t wait to see what teams come up with!
- Who can/should participate in NDoCH?
To put it simply: everyone! Despite the name, NDoCH is not just for coders. Like all Code for Boston events, we encourage designers, developers, writers, researchers, policy wonks, urbanists, engaged citizens, city planners, or government workers to attend and get involved. Anyone with a good idea who cares about his or her community is welcome. It’s a big tent.
- What do you hope to accomplish at NDoCH?
Since our overall theme for the weekend is Community Engagement, we’d love to have some solid, actionable takeaways as to how to best engage traditionally overlooked or ignored communities in bettering the cities in which we all live and work. There is no one Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, or Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for that matter. We are all individuals with unique perspectives and experiences about what makes our cities great…and what needs improvement. We’d love to come out of the event with a way forward to further engage community groups by leveraging our own expertise and municipal partner relationships to foster engagement and empowerment.
- What happens after NDoCH – will the projects continue?
After the event, it is our hope that many of the projects and discussions will continue as part of Code for Boston’s weekly hack nights. Our group meets each Tuesday evening at CIC and we provide a space for people to continue to work on honing or developing their projects. While much of the work we do is technology-focused, that is by no means the rule. Teams are free to attend hack nights to continue to hone technology projects, discuss policy, or brainstorm further ideas for community engagement. We like to say that Code for Boston is part mission-driven non-profit, part technology meetup, part advocacy group, and part social club, and neither of those distinctions is more of less important than the others. Come on by, we’d love to have you!
To RSVP or to learn more about NDoCH or Code for Boston, visit our event page: https://ndochbos2015.splashthat.com/#