(Photo by Lalita Clozel)
When the local Code for America brigade first convened in October 2012, Grimes had a question for those who showed up — “do you engage civically?” — and some homework.
“Most of them didn’t know the ward they were living in,” he said. So Grimes instructed them to find their local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, the hyperlocal branch of D.C. government.
Easier said than done, explained Steven Reilly. “The information is all over the place.” So he led a team to create ANC Finder, a tool now recommended on the DC Board of Ethics and Government Accountability website.
Code for DC was later approached by community group Bread for the City to streamline the subsidized housing application process. That project is still in the works. “We need people who are deeply fascinated about PDFs,” said Marcus Louie, who is spearheading it.
On Aug. 13, about a third of the approximately fifty attendees who crowded into Impact Hub DC, a shared workspace for startups, were newcomers — many with little coding experience.
“Everybody’s, like, wicked smart here,” said Liz Haney, 25, who started attending in July, because “I want to learn more about just coding,” she said.
That’s also part of the spirit at Code for DC, said Grimes, a statistician at the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “We rarely have guest lecturers,” he said. “We’re either teaching or training people. We’re building something.”
Code for DC has also shed some of its initial virility, thanks to Bannon, a product manager at 18F, the U.S. General Services Administration’s open-data jack-of-all-trades. At first, she said, she was usually “the only woman to show up.”
In December 2013, she created the DC TechLady Hackathon, which attracted more than 100 local tech-savvy women. Many have become Code for DC regulars.
Code for DC convenes on the second Wednesday and third Tuesday of each month.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of projects they need help with. Lend a hand:
- Code for DC Guides
- Mayor’s Schedule Archive
- Affordable Housing
- ANC Finder
- Code for DC Website
- Emergency Response Times
- Open 211
- Community Gardens Visualization
- Code of Conduct
- CaBi Odds (average availability at Capital Bikeshare stations)
- Metro Metrics
- Street Tree Map