Jill Bjers
Dec 21, 2018 · 3 min read

On December 15, 2018, Open Charlotte Brigade hosted the 2nd annual Open NC Collaborative Meeting. In attendance was at least one representative from Charlotte, Asheville, Greensboro, Durham, Raleigh, Cary, and Wilmington Brigades. All in all, there was about 15 brigade leaders from around North Carolina together to discuss how we advance civic tech and community/government relationships around the state.

Like most states, North Carolina is made up of primarily rural areas with nodes of urban metros. Out of the 100 NC Counties, only 6 have Brigades. Therefore, one of our main focuses is on the idea that we want to build civic tech projects that aren’t just used in our local cities but create a mesh of services over our state.

The agenda is a collaborative effort by all of the brigades with the focus of the best use of our time together. With that in mind, we took updates off of the in-person time and moved them into document style updates and keep the conversation to our desired impact and projects. All of the projects put forward and discussed move our desired impact forward.

Open NC Collaborative Summit Attendees

Since we don’t get to see each other all of the time and there were new leaders around the table, we started the day with quick introductions and reaffirming our mission and broad goals. Then quickly moved into a great session, facilitated by Melanie Mazenac (Asheville), asking the hard questions about our desired impact, outcomes and activities that we should do to support those goals. From this session, we figured out our Theory of Change, which is…

To build a collaborative infrastructure to help people solve their problem and be responsive when crises (i.e., opportunity to participate) arise. We don’t have a specific challenge to address but are open to all challenges.

During the afternoon Sagar Mishra (Wilmington) lead our discussion on projects. We talked about what type of process and framework projects should have, how to make them successful, what impact each of them put forward. Because projects are such a vast topic and often the center of civic tech work, we knew we’d only scratch the surface but had some excellent insight shared.
We discussed building a project framework around tasks instead of roles. Each person on the team agrees to complete specific tasks instead of asking them to fulfill a “role,” that they may or may not understand.

In truth, each of these subjects we touched on could use a day-long Summit or more. But we made great use of our time together and moved the discussion forward. Throughout the day, there was one common theme that we threaded into all of our conversations, diversity. We are committed to expanding the diversity at our table. For us, diversity isn’t just demographics, but also geographic. We hope that at future events we can grow to include representatives of both rural and urban areas, regions with and without a Brigade.

After a long but fruitful day, we adjourned to Draft for some food and drinks, but also to fulfill our promise of strengthening our connections in the best way possible.

If you are interested in helping us figure out how we reach these amazing lofty goals of impact or want to help build out a framework for distributive work for projects, please let me know. We’d love your input and help setting it up.

Notes at the bottom: If you’d like to learn more or read the agenda/notes, you can find them here.

Open Charlotte Brigade

Think volunteer fire brigade for the digital age. We are a volunteer citizen brigade. We use technology and advocacy as a tool for open government, open data and civic engagement.

Jill Bjers

Written by

Open Charlotte Brigade

Think volunteer fire brigade for the digital age. We are a volunteer citizen brigade. We use technology and advocacy as a tool for open government, open data and civic engagement.

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