Thursday, April 6, 2017

Chicago Hack Night Celebrates 5 Years - Why I Participate

Last year I wrote this article to show why I attend weekly Chicago Hack Night meetings, which are "Chicago's weekly event to build, share &learn about civic tech".

In a couple of weeks #chihacknight is celebrating five years of weekly meetings and participants have been encouraged to write about why they participate.

I shared reasons for why I participate in last year's article. These have not changed. I attend for the weekly presentations, which expose me to new ideas, and to build relationships with people working in this arena.  However, most of my networking and learning is done in the Slack channel where members interact daily.

I've been able to reach out to forge stronger relationships around area's I'm deeply interested in, such as mapping and public engagement.  However, what's really valuable to me is the daily sharing of articles that I would not be aware of if I were not visiting Slack and following the conversation thread.

For instance, today, I saw a mention of an article titled "What 100K can do for civic journalism in Chicago."  I read the article, then reached out through the City Bureau web site and Twitter feed to introduce the "Rest of the Story" media strategy that I've used since 1993 to draw more frequent attention to neighborhoods where media stories cover bad news, but don't draw resources to help change that to good news.

I shared this 2014 blog article following a shooting in Rodgers Park, which encourages students from local high schools to tell the story via their own writing, videos and social media.

Another example. During the weekly meetings I learned about how one group wanted to create a web portal to help volunteers find places to do service in Chicago. On the Slack channel I learned more about this, and visited the GitHub page to offer my own ideas on this project.

A third example. Another link posted on the Slack channel today was one that pointed to this web site, encouraging Chance the Rapper to run for Mayor of Chicago, and encouraging non-voters to get involved. I visited the site and was really impressed with the creative way it presented this information. So, I looked them up on Twitter and said "great job". I also shared a set of articles I've written with Chicago's Mayor as the focus, and said "You, and people like you, could do these 10,000 times better than I do."  Below is a response to my Tweet.

Often I add links to some of the articles and web sites I find through the Slack conversation to the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library,  making the ideas available to myself in the future, while making them also available to anyone else who ever visits my library.

I've been using maps since 1993 to draw volunteers, donors, talent and ideas to youth serving organizations in high poverty neighborhoods so that there would be a wide range of mentor-rich programs working to help young people grow up safely and enter their adult lives with a network of people helping them....just like what's available to kids in more affluent areas of Chicago and other cities.

The mapping I do has been largely supported by volunteers, so there are many who attend ChiHackNight who could help me do this, and do this better.  Many of the visualizations I show were created by interns, borrowing from ideas I launched in blog articles like this. There are many who could do this better than I do, such as the creators of the Chance4Mayor site. The stories I write here and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC blog. need to be written by many people, using their own talent, technology and resources, and communicated daily, reaching people in all parts of the Chicago region, motivating on-going, long-term, actions that result in more help for those living in poverty and distressed situations.

For forty years I've learned from the ideas and work being done by others and I've applied this learning to my own efforts. I'm really happy to have ChiHackNight as part of my network and appreciate the dedication and commitment of the organizers who have made these weekly meetings happen for the past five years.

Let's go for 10!

1 comment:

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Here's another reflection about ChiHackNight.

Visit to read endorsements from many ChiHackNight participants.