January 17, 2015
The new year has come with myriad changes. Having moved to the Bay Area recently for my year-long fellowship with Code for America I’ve found myself in a very new place professionaly and mentally. The one thing that has me incredibly jazzed about this year, though, is the community of people around me that have taken the plunge into civic technology.
For the past few years I’ve stretched myself in as many directions as possible with the desire to intake as much as people are willing to give me. For however much I can convince myself that I won’t get tired, I inevitably find myself with too many places to be and a body that only allows me to be present in one place at a time. There’s work, meetups, hangouts, hack sessions, hackathons, bootcamps, freelance projects. All of these things bring with them communities that I want to dedicate my time to.
But how does one become dedicated when one cannot give their all?
Enter Code for America. Think of it as a delicious Mission burrito with a brain. Its fillings combine to a feeling that is something like the adventure of studying abroad, the professional curiosity of a conference, and the contentedness of a campfire at dusk. It’s a feeling that’s wrapped up in an open, ever-learning tortilla of knowledge and community all dedicated to learning as much and as comprehensively as possible.
There have been few times in the small blip of my programming life where I’ve felt 100% surrounded by people who won’t back down because of something getting in their way. Where the idea of building something new isn’t just a concept, but a way of life. I can walk into work and leave completely fulfilled; not needing to stretch myself further as the day goes on outside of those doors. Why stretch yourself when you are in an environment of constant learning and appreciation? Now, don’t get me wrong. In Seattle I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of similar organizations, such as CUGOS, where challenges drive the group. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to organize CUGOS for my job.
Here’s what’s got me so incredibly confused. Why don’t more people do it this way? What’s important for a places like Code for America to succeed, it seems, is not merely a high level of brilliance, but more so a collection of open minds willing to question themselves and everyone around them in attempt to find the most holistic and stalworth solution to a problem. I like that. A lot. Other companies and organizations should take notice.
Brick walls are just brick walls. You can climb over them, dig under them, or build a big ass hammer and knock that shit down. Just don’t turn around.
I’ve been at Code for America for 8 days. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.
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The first official group shot of the 2015 Fellows. (After a long, but energetic orientation day.) pic.twitter.com/TtM5udODCF— Code for America (@codeforamerica) January 8, 2015