Transforming to Open Charlotte Brigade

You might have seen a message or noticed our Twitter handle change. It’s true. Code for Charlotte is changing our name to Open Charlotte Brigade. We’ve been debating this for what feels like forever, and I’m excited that we’ve decided to take the plunge.

Let me tell you about why we’re making the change. It’s more complicated than just the hope of not having to explain that we’re not a coding boot camp at every turn. But really about having our name reflects our focus. We’ve always stated that our goal is to help create an open, accessible Charlotte.

I believe that begins with our government. After all, it is the common foundation of our city. What if our common practices meet people where they are? If the residents had a hand in designing the delivery of their services? If all residents could access services and feel their time is respected and their dignity intact? That would indeed be an open, accessible Charlotte.

That is the foundation of our organization. To realize that, we’ve always worked the intersection of technology and civic engagement. Within our values, technology has always been the tool we use to increase openness and civic engagement, not the end goal. However, I believe that hasn’t always come through with our messaging. The name didn’t help either. Code for Charlotte screams that our focus is on creating technology, instead of creating accessibility.

To create real accessibility, we need to be more inclusive. We need to draw in residents outside of the technology community. We need to add their voices to the growing army of developers and designers that share our belief that government and community services should be open, accessible and user-friendly. Frankly, the name Code for Charlotte scared many of them away. Without being a coder, they didn’t believe they could add value and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

We need to completely embrace our role in Charlotte as a bridge between resident, local government, and community organizations. We are facilitating residents become more involved in solving problems and using their resources and skills to effecting change. In essence, we are creating a more Open Charlotte for many of our fellow residents.

I am so grateful to our partners for their support in this change. We are holding steadfast in our mission and goals. I know the shift in our name will help us achieve them. We will continue to foster resident engagement; advocate for open source, open government and open data; partner with our community, the City of Charlotte and County of Mecklenburg; and, hold open community events.

Additionally, thank you to our members, without you this mission wouldn’t go forward. Your action and dedication are how change happens. It’s how we shape our community and create the Charlotte that we all want to live within. Thank you! I’m inspired every day by you.