This past weekend was the first ever Civinomicon 2013. Most of you guys are familiar with the concept of a hackathon, well Civinomicon is a civic hackathon sans the software development & coding.
*Disclaimer: I work at Civinomics which is the company that put on the event. In fact, I was the chief event coordinator and this is merely a glimpse of what I got out of this event.
I feel it’s appropriate to go in depth to how this weekend culminated into a melting pot of people coming together as a community with the common goal of making Santa Cruz County better. So what exactly happened? Well, as someone who never thought civic engagement could be ‘sexy’ and had very little involvement in politics, I can honestly say I saw a paradigm shift in civic engagement.
To be frank, civic engagement got sexy.
21st century technology finally caught up with civic engagement. Not only was it a great event for those that attended, but it was documented online for everyone to see and participate in. It’s a one-stop-shop for anyone to learn about the issues they care about (data-driven insights are important!) and voice their thoughts in a civil manner.
The weekend is over, but Civinomicon sure is not. This weekend was just a taste of what people could accomplish when coming together to achieve a common goal: improve the community. Which leads me to…
Civinomicon is about finding solutions, not just pointing out problems. Stephanie Tam-Rosas from the PDCR came and gave a talk before we went out into topic groups. She mentioned how easy it was to voice what we DON’T want, but that information doesn’t go very far if you leave out what you DO want. Not only did that set a great foundation for the event, but mud-slinging was minimized and people started focusing on meaningful contributions rather than just complaining.
Lastly, there is a demand for civic engagement. I always thought civic engagement was dead and that my opinions had very little impact even on a city level. I soon realized that people do have a desire to make their community better, but they don’t know how to effectively participate– or that simply, there ISN’T an effective way to participate. As someone who didn’t believe in civic engagement to someone who came out of Civinomicon working on a project with the Mayor of the City, I’d say that my faith in civic engagement has been restored.
The reason why I put so much time and effort (alongside my team) to make this event awesome was because Santa Cruz has such a rich history with civic engagement and people who want to make a change, but it seems like so much of their efforts and passions weren’t being channeled effectively towards finding solutions. I mean, if there’s one place to make a change– it should be at a city & county level, right?
Oh yeah… that project that I’m working on with the Mayor Hilary Bryant (Santa Cruz)– well she presented it at the last day of Civinomicon as her initiative. Luckily, I caught it on camera!