Patrick Hammons is leaving Philadelphia, but he’ll be back.
The 29-year-old South Philadelphian is heading to Pittsburgh as part of the 2015 Code for America fellowship, where he’ll work with Pittsburgh city government to see how technology can solve city problems. (That makes the second Philly government staffer to make off for Pittsburgh city government.)
“I want to be a CfA fellow because I’m convinced civic hacking is essential in making better government,” he wrote in an email.
People in government are restrained by a lot of things (perhaps most importantly the specter of failure) and tech-empowered citizens funneling their frustrations with city processes into solutions can be a kind of R&D lab for governments. Code for America brigades form the basis of many of these communities and their fellowship program takes the civic hacking energy directly into city partner governments. While the apps we will build are important and will surely deepen my technical skills, I’m most excited to experience the transformative potential between civic hackers and their government. More than anything else I want to learn how to better foster this relationship.
"Beyond the plethora of sandwich options, this city exhibits an inspiring level of civic volunteerism."
Hammons, who runs the MaptimePHL meetup, quit his job as a GIS specialist for the City of Philadelphia to become a Code for America fellow, but after the fellowship ends, he’ll be back.
“I’ve been in Philly since 2012, and beyond the plethora of sandwich options, this city exhibits an inspiring level of civic volunteerism,” he wrote. “People really care about their neighborhoods — chipping in to clean up a park, helping out with the next block party, raising funds to support a struggling family, etc. — and that’s something I want to always have in my life.”
Code for America has had a strong impact on Philly.
- Philadelphia hosted Code for America fellows two years in a row, one of which is now the city’s Director of Civic Technology, two of which run a startup that’s working with the city’s reintegration services office and another of which was an Azavea employee before becoming a fellow (and now runs a startup in San Francisco).
- The local Code for Philly brigade meets weekly to work on civic apps.
- Philly civic hacker Jeff Maher was a 2014 Code for America fellow (he now lives in San Francisco).