I’m wondering if you’re ever in a lull between projects, a planned presenter unexpectedly cancels, or don’t have any tutorials ready: do you have any projects or activities that you have in your back pocket, so to speak, that you can break out and have your attendees do with minimal onboarding and get started?
These types of projects/activities may not be valuable for long systemic change but they have a short onboarding process so that a new attendee can begin contributing within 30 minutes of arriving and walk away that night with a contribution that they did something, will learn something about their government and the place around them.
Some ideas that we’ve done in Cleveland:
Editing OpenStreetMap - a free, minimally restricted global public map (Think google maps but with licensing not unlike wikipedia). Users can add local knowledge (locations of public businesses, government buildings, parks, sidewalks, roads, and more) that can be then used for data analysis, navigation, or to make your own maps. I recommend having at least one experienced OSM mapper on hand to guide new editors and ensure your contributors are done with best practices.
If you have a compatible source of data available (from your city’s open data repository - this is important to make sure it’s compatible with OSM’s license) and some geo saavy folks on your team, you could also even
Updating your municipality on the US City Open Data Census
Digitizing, improving poorly formatted city data
- Although this can be rote, it can have a clear impact if the data is used later on. Campaign finance contributions in my county
are OCR’ed PDFs which can’t be easily searched or analyzed for trends, calculations.
We’ve using Tabula to extract the tables and then manually review the data entries and passed them along to local journalists.
- Updating your brigade’s website
Any other idea for activities and projects?