YOYO: You’re On Your Own
At midnight on July 4, 2012 I issued the following command: “git push brigade master.” That means I sent a command to to redeploy the Brigade website from its code repository on GitHub. The new site transforms the Brigade from a community of app deployers into a community of civic hacktivists. It’s truly fitting that we did this on Independence Day, but the reason might not be obvious.
As Americans we tend to refer to July 4th in terms of “independence” and “freedom.” We emphasize the values of being free from tyranny. We emphasize our break from dependence on a far away king who taxed us but who did not provide for us. We emphasize our rejection of a government that did not represent us. But take a moment and think about the practical meaning of “independence” and “freedom” on July 5th.
“Freedom” and “independence” meant that we were taking on the tremendous responsibility of governing ourselves. Many will observe that we had already taken on this responsibility and that was the very thing that precipitated the revolt. The Declaration of Independence was a response to King George’s obstruction of our ability to govern ourselves. But make no mistake, The Declaration of Independence also completely raised the bar on what we Americans would have to do to survive and thrive as a society. We were on our own.
Two-hundred and thirty-six years later, we are not revolting against our government but we are negotiating the sobering reality that government cannot serve us if we do not take responsibility as citizens for governance. In it’s own small way, this is the essence of Brigade.
This summer we’re calling on all Americans to renew their sense of citizenship by advocating for better, faster, more tech savvy governments. The Brigade members will power the Open Impact campaign– and solicit their local governments to adopt open government principles. They will spread the word about why open government matters to each and every American. They will demonstrate the value of open governments by building applications using open government data. They will help to build a community of trust between City Hall and city residents. They will make and Open Impact.
These Brigade members are Americans who are willing to take responsibility for transforming the way our local governments use the web and information technology to communicate, provide services, and engage citizens.
This is important, even vital, because the web and IT play such integral roles in society. The longer our systems of government fail to effectively utilize the web and information technology the more disconnected our government and society become. Brigade can help reverse the trend. Here’s how:
There are five activities that all America can do to help their cities work better, using the people and power of the web:
- Open Civic Data
- Advocate for Open Government
- Commit to Open Source, Civic Software
- Deploy and Maintain Civic Apps
- Captain a Brigade
Each of these activities is an opportunity for you to take responsibility for your own governance. Each is a path to independence. Take a look at our new web site and find something you can do. You don’t have to be a coder. What’s important is that you care about how your government uses the web and that you are willing to take action to make things better. There’s no such thing as “the government,” as if it is a thing separate from ourselves. Government are the things we do together that we cannot do separately.