CityCamp: Empowerment 2.0

It’s almost always certain that whenever the words “government” and “event” are in the same sentence that the response is the sound of chirping crickets. But I couldn’t have been more surprised when I arrived to cover CityCamp Honolulu. All 130 seats were sold out and people still kept coming. The response was shockingly overwhelming. The event, CityCamp, was an unconference designed to bring together municipal governments and the local communities in a collaborative effort to fix pressing issues. I took some notes and against my better judgement have posted them:

The event was attended by people from all walks of life; there were students, businessmen, developers, politicians and guest speakers. All of the attendees had their heads buried in projects they had chosen to work on. I had honestly never seen this happen before and was very impressed with their passion. I was also impressed with the organizers, Burt Lum and Forresst Frizzell who were the primary movers in crowdsourcing the revolution. They are grizzled veterans of unconferences and have the uncanny ability to seemingly be in ten places at once.

I enjoyed the fact that CityCamp was able to bind the interaction between the municipal government and the community. Officials were no longer just email addresses or numbers that people called. They now had faces, names and personalities. More often than not, we simply blame the government when things go wrong without completely understanding the situation, and they in turn blame us. At CityCamp, the community had the chance to pitch their solutions to the problems we have, while the municipal government had an opportunity to hear unique solutions, and discuss why these solutions should be implemented. Both sides then talked about the reasons why it is or isn’t feasible given everyone’s situation. At end of the event, everyone was more informed about how to implement change and how to better work with the municipal government and the local community.

There were very few things that people disliked about the event. One comment was the huge gap in knowledge. Some participants were not as well versed in IT and had difficulty in understanding the more detailed and technical aspects of development. These participants mentioned they were worried that some good ideas were lost in translation.

Verdict: AWESOME!
Overall, it was a blast to attend and I learned a lot about how the government works and how we, as citizens, can effect change within everyone’s capabilities. I’m already looking forward to the next event and hope that some of the solutions that were discussed will be presented as success stories to inspire and propel the next wave in crowdsourcing the revolution.