Local Transparency, Accountability, and the Fight for Racial Justice

As the country continues to respond to the calls for racial justice and for more accountability within our systems, the Code for America Brigade Network has searched for ways to be part of the response.

While our main efforts towards various racial justice movements go toward supporting organizations that have worked towards racial justice and changing our systemic structures toward equity for centuries, we also believe in people power and the collective impact Code for America Brigades can bring to their respective communities.

In the fight for racial justice, organizations and individuals need tools to advance their work. Below are guides to projects in the Network that serve as tools for transparency and access to information that organizations can use to build support for racial justice initiatives. They also provide a foundation to help hold elected leaders accountable on their positions impacting racial justice.

With the help of Open Oakland, Open Maine, and Open Seattle we created project canvases for projects that promote transparency, accountability, and accessibility in our civic systems. From city budgets to city council meetings and local ballot questions, these projects help empower changemakers and are hyper-local in their applications.

Open Oakland’s Open Budget explores the amount of funding allocated to city departments, which was helpful to Oakland residents and community organizations as questions around police budgets across the country arise. Open Maine’s Maine Ballot strives to present all sides of the arguments for and against the pending ballot questions in clear and accessible language. Open Seattle’s Council Data Project empowers citizens and journalists to make city council activities discoverable and understandable by more than just policymakers. See these projects and adapt them for your Brigade using their project canvasses.

Brigade Project Canvas: Open Budget

Open Oakland

Open Budget: Oakland takes current and past budget data published by the City of Oakland and transforms data into an interactive display of charts and diagrams that is easy to read and use. This tool has been recently used by Oakland residents to research the city funding for police.

Brigade Project Canvas: Maine Ballot

Open Maine

MaineBallot.org was created by Shannon McHarg, a user experience designer living in Maine, and is supported by OpenMaine volunteers. The goal of MaineBallot.org is to provide concise, non-partisan information to make it easy to understand the ballot questions pending in Maine, including the questions at the upcoming election on November 3, 2020.

Brigade Project Canvas: Council Data Project

Open Seattle

Open Seattle’s Council Data Project focused on making City Council data more accessible to folks, it also gives clarity around actions taken by city council members by making it more discoverable and trackable. Actions include, events (meetings), voting history of a city council or city council member, committees and their members, minutes items, and event transcripts.