Why Manor?

The other night I was chatting with GovFresh founder Luke Fretwell about the upcoming manor.govfresh event, happening in Manor, TX in less than two weeks.  He asked me a simple, obvious question:  why am I going?  I gave him some reasons off the top of my head.  Eventually the conversation turned to other topics.  But it got me thinking more about the event and why it’s significant.

Last I checked there are about 30 government attendees signed up for manor.govfresh.  They represent about two-thirds as many different government organizations.  Almost all of them are from local governments.  That’s about how many came to the inaugural CityCamp.  That’s a big deal.  Manor.govfresh is different from CityCamp in that the latter is more about sitting down at the table and working through issues.  For the most part, manor.govfresh will be about orienting and educating people who are just starting to learn about Gov 2.0 at the local level.  I like to think of events like manor.govfresh and sf.govfresh as a “stimulate” complement to CityCamp. So I want to see how local governments will respond to what they will be learning in Manor.

Part of manor.govfresh is also fascinating and worthwhile experiment in “making over” another small town in Texas called DeLeon.  Imagine Extreme Home Makeover for local government IT.  Try as they might, it seems nearly impossible for even willing governme nts to make the improvements everyone agrees are needed.  Budgets aren’t just tight. They are disappearing.  99% of the time IT is a support function; not the mission itself. So Dustin Haisler, playing the part of (a surely subdued) Ty Pennington is showing up with an expert team of Gov 2.0 implementers to give the deserving town of DeLeon the lift it needs to move into the online 21st century.

There are many other reasons why I’m glad to be going to Manor.  It’s a great opportunity to meet in person with many of the outstanding professionals with whom I’ve been collaborating in this space; Alissa Black from Code for America, Ben Berkowitz from SeeClickFix, Andy Krzmarzick from GovLoop, Chris Metcalf from Socrata, Dustin from City of Manor, and Luke from GovFresh.  It’s sure to be fun and I know it will have Luke’s sense of style that I have come to appreciate.

There was something else special about the GovFresh event Luke put on in San Francisco, too.  At the end of the event San Francisco CIO Chris Vein took questions from the audience.  For about an hour he had an open dialog with his core constituency; the coders, journalists, designers, and community organizers who are interested in San Francisco’s open government initiatives.  Where else does that happen? No where. Who else makes that happen?  No one. I regret that I wasn’t able to attend the GovFresh event in San Francisco so there’s no way I’m missing Manor.

Здравствуйте CityCamp St. Petersburg, Russia

Through the gift of Google Translate, we give you CityCampSPb:

“In the 20 century we have done everything to accommodate a city car, now needs to be done so that it becomes convenient for people’s lives. The problems of the city – it is our problem, the potential of the city – our potential.

CityCamp – this anti-conference on innovation for the city. We will invite local authorities, representatives of the Administration of the city, famous people, programmers, and it-Schnick, designers, active citizens, bloggers, so they can share ideas, concerns, visions and perspectives. At the conference we will discuss and create solutions that can be used in cities to improve the lives of people of the city, using as a basis for open information technology and the Internet.”

CityCamp St. Petersburg is October 23-24, 2010.

3 Local Examples

I’m spending a lot of my CityCamp time these day on two things, 1)  talking to people in different cities about hosting camps and 2) building out the infrastructure for making CityCamps recognizable and repeatable for anyone to use.  In thinking about what describes the essence of CityCamp, including the 4 Goals, I’ve realized that most important to me, personally, is the 4th Goal:  Create outcomes that participants will act upon after the event is over. I want to witness conversations converted into actions.  That seems like a tremendous task given a relative lack of awareness and understanding of Gov 2.0 at the local level among anyone but early adopters in big, urban markets.  But it’s not a tremendous task if we talk in concrete terms among people who are positions to enact change.  Here in my city of Virginia Beach, Virginia I can think of 3 specific examples of what this means. Continue reading

CityCamp 2.0

It started almost a year ago with a few tweets. That’s when Jennifer Pahlka and I decided to organize a barcamp dedicated to Gov 2.0 at the local level. With absolutely zero forethought we decided that the time had come to take all of this talk about open data, participatory media, and “government as platform” to the places where citizens intersect government most directly and often:  the places in which we live.

Over the weekend of January 23 & 24, 115-or-so people came from across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. to have earnest conversations about how to make municipal governments more open and user friendly. We wanted to show local governments how to leverage the Web as a platform for building smarter local governments. We wanted to understand the obstacles that stand in the way of this goal.

CityCamp Chicago was that inaugural event and it was a success beyond our expectations.  As we concluded the first CityCamp, we had no plans or expectations to carry on. Our hope was that people would just copy what we did and have their own CityCamps. In fact, Washington, D.C. did just that. But as time went on, I started getting calls and emails: “Hey, when are you going to do a CityCamp in my city?” Or, “We’re thinking about doing a CityCamp. Can you help us out?” That’s when I realized what had to be done.

Today I am thrilled, and admittedly a bit nervous, as we launch this online hub for CityCamp along with a CityCamp ‘World Tour.’

Learn how you can start a CityCamp where you live.

Welcome to the new CityCamp Website!

New CityCamp Website!

As part of our efforts to promote the CityCamp Word Tour, we’re working with GovFresh to create this new hub for all things CityCamp.

There’s still an open barcamp wiki and a public forum. This site brings it all together through a common portal with a great look and feel. In fact, our hope is that this site will help establish CityCamp as an ‘open source brand,’ something that is both easily repeatable and recognizable for anyone to use. That’s why we put CityCamp in the Creative Commons. There will be a few rules to follow, but as few as possible. We haven’t completely worked out those details but didn’t want to wait to get started.

CityCamp as an ‘Open Source Brand’

We’re working on making CityCamp an “open source brand.” CityCamp should exist in the Creative Commons. Open source ensures that CityCamp is maintained as a pattern that is easily repeatable and for anyone to use.  Branding ensures that the pattern is recognizable and that independent organizers don’t misrepresent CityCamp. No one organization will own CityCamp.  Instead it will be maintained by the CityCamp community supported by a cadre of local community organizers.