If we wanted to, we could post a piece a day about someone opining – often mostly blathering – about the tech buses in redundant ways that make one want to flee from all OPED pieces.
The Guardian (UK newspaper) offers a piece that actually adds information and a suggestion about community engagement and tech and for those of you interested, it offers links. It touches on a point that we plan to address in an upcoming podcast: community involvement. The piece was written by Lydia Laurenson, who lives in the city and works for an internet company. She also had a Peace Corp experience that taught her something about living in the world. Here is a short excerpt, but click to the whole piece.
Real community engagement is unbelievably hard; if it were easy, more people would do it. Simply finding a starting point is hard. But one place we might learn from is the SF-based organization Code For America, which is a bit like a tech Peace Corps (although it primarily serves American cities). CFA exposes its year-long Fellows directly to the workings of various governments and local communities.
Crucially, Fellows gain months of exposure before they even start thinking about solutions they can build. As Catherine Bracy, CFA’s Director for Community Organizing, told me: “The point is to start with the problem and not with the technology.”
“My fellowship year clarified more problems than solutions,” writes one Code For America Fellow in a blog post. I felt encouraged reading that, because it exalts a cautious learning process.
As far as I know, the CFA Fellowship is the only program of its kind, and it’s overwhelmed with applications. Hundreds of people apply for 30 one-year-long Fellowship slots. So CFA also runs a program they call the Code for America Brigade, which helps tech folks learn more about and contribute to local communities for a few hours every week. Code For America is not the only game in town, but it’s worth knowing about. READ THE FULL PIECE HERE
And there is also the local Engage SF Effort.