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Lawrence Grodeska is a Senior Product Manager at Accela, where he builds apps that are transforming how citizens interact with their communities and local governments. Prior to Accela, Lawrence built the content marketing program at the world’s platform for change, Change.org, and released the City and County of San Francisco‘s first mobile app which helped to spur the open data movement in the Bay Area.


Lawrence is the co-founder of the democracy and technology community CivicMakers. He regularly speaks about civic engagement at events such as SXSW Interactive, Nonprofit Technology Conference, and Code for America Summit. You can find him at @grodeska.

Community in Action: Recap of CityCampSF

Community in Action: Recap of CityCampSF

Last month a passionate group of citizens gathered at the Code for America headquarters in San Francisco, California, to share, listen and take action to build a better community. I was one of the organizers of CityCampSF, an event that brought over 200 citizens together to discuss what is most important to them and their community.

The event kicked off with welcoming remarks from myself to an exciting mix of public, private and nonprofit sector citizens. The opening panel hosted by GovFresh revealed insights about pioneering civic innovation within the City of San Francisco from Chief Information Officer Jay Nath and Chief Data Officer Joy Bonaguro. The day continued with presentations and discussions on disaster preparedness, community development, legal code and more from other government technology leaders.

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Community-Building for Better Cities

Community-Building for Better Cities

What happens when you gather local officials, city staff, entrepreneurs, designers, developers, journalists and citizens in a room for one day, and ask for their best ideas to improve their communities? You get CityCamp - a lot of excitement, a little chaos, plenty of solutions and a whole lot of action.

CityCamp is a national movement that brings people together to build stronger communities where they live. Core to the CityCamp model is the belief that local governments and community organizations have the most direct influence to make cities more open and “user friendly." CityCamp provides a space for that to happen through locally organized “unconferences.” At an unconference, the agenda is created by attendees and reflects the interests and expertise of those in the room.

The first CityCamp was held in Chicago in January 2010, inspired by other unconferences like Transparency Camp and Gov 2.0 Camp.

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CivicMakers Movement Spreading from Coast to Coast

This originally appeared as a guest post on TechWire.net on October 15, 2014. What’s your latest gripe about government? Maybe you can’t figure out how to make a quick online payment for that parking ticket from last weekend? Or you missed the public comment period on the massive construction project next door because it was scheduled for 2 p.m. at City Hall? Could be that you’re just tired of the endless bickering between two political parties that don’t really seem to represent the views of any real Americans. Considering the inefficiency of our government services, it’s no wonder that the hallmark of this political age is overwhelming civic cynicism. And recognizing just how broken our representative democracy is, it’s no surprise that disparities in wealth and justice in the U.S. have never been so acute. It can be depressing and overwhelming, but there is another, more hopeful trend emerging in...
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