Where did the summer go? I blinked and it was gone.
June: Sunlight Foundation’s Transparency Camp (#tcamp14)
I met the Sunlight Foundation’s operations director Scott Wells in May this year at a mutual friend’s new pastorate—just a few days after I’d seen a promoted tweet about the foundation’s annual un-conference on transparency, open government, and civic technologies: Transparency Camp.
Transparency Camp 2014 exploded onto Twitter with the hashtag #tcamp14. I went and, over the two days I spent with other tcampers, I tweeted about 250% more than I usually do. It was more than worth it.
Within days, Sunlight staff had summarized the event’s best items and innovations, and attendees created crowdsourced notes for most sessions that will stay accessible on the Transparency Camp website through the year (click on session titles in the daily schedule to read them).
— Gus Voss (@Gus_Folo_Money) September 9, 2014
I attended sessions on the National Institute on Money in State Politics’ new website (followthemoney.org went live this Tuesday!), met members of Code for Progress, and contributed to several discussions including
- Extracting data from .PDF files—why one would want to and tools up to the job;
- Increasing diversity in the tech community;
- Surveillance and privacy (again both re. significance and tools); negotiating negative system reactions to transparency initiatives at local and state levels;
- Data scraping techniques;
- International case studies in freedom of information (FOIA);
- Grant-seeking for US open government data research; and
- International security data and the Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index published by London’s Transparency International UK.
From scheduled conversations to casual connections, TCamp14 was an intense bubble of high engagement, high technology, and high concern for the quality of the public political conversation, decision-making, and accountability processes.
I hadn’t been sure whether I’d find the TCamp context to be technologically triumphalist, too easily trusting in coding’s ability to Fix Everything™ (see A Hidden Computing Curriculum for questions about the ideologies of the programming and hacking enterprise). And while I did see some suggestions of tech triumphalism, I also heard concern and consciousness about who gets left out when we assume technology and social technological structures are neutral, and questions that don’t even get asked when we use US or European norms and infrastructures as the measuring stick for transparency worldwide, and ways technologists can use their influence to benefit more people and more kinds of people in the civic sphere.
How to protect the innocent in open data? How can non-techie people access secure communications? What legal safeguards are there? #tcamp14
— mackenzian (@mackenzian) May 30, 2014
July: SDA Kinship’s Annual Kampmeeting (#kmtg14)
Kinship’s 35th annual meeting was held north of Atlanta, GA, between July 15 and July 20. I’ve attended each July for the last four years, and each year the mix of speakers and attendees makes it an entirely new creature.
#kmtg14 featured Wendy Gritter, author of Generous Spaciousness, a book that promotes hospitality, mutuality, humility, grace, justice, and other moral values needed to ground healthier relationships in Christian faith communities. We also spent several devotional periods talking with Herb Montgomery, author of Finding the Father, and reflecting on how Jesus’ teachings on love, power, and scapegoating impact how we see ourselves and how we treat the Other among us.
Audio of Herb’s talks is available through his website and I’ve posted daily Storify archives for 80% of the sessions.
- Day 1: #kmtg14: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 | Opening proceedings with Wendy Gritter (@wgritter)
- Day 2: #kmtg14: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 | With Herb Montgomery (@HerbMontgomery) and Wendy Gritter (@wgritter)
- Day 3: #kmtg14: Thursday, July 17, 2014 | With Herb Montgomery (@HerbMontgomery), Wendy Gritter (@wgritter), and Eliel Cruz (@elielcruz)
- Day 4: #kmtg14: Friday, July 18, 2014 (evening only) | Communion celebration
- Day 5: #kmtg14: Saturday, July 19, 2014 | Sabbath services with the talented souls of Kinship, Todd Leonard (@reconcilerestor), and Herb Montgomery (@HerbMontgomery)
Plan to join #kmtg15 next July in Pomona, CA. I don’t know how the group is going to top this year’s pre-Kampmeeting outing to the safari—but I’m looking forward to finding out!
My fall calendar is filling up fast, but I’m still taking on communication work for the next few months. Scholarship applications, article or manuscripts, grants, podcasts, interviews, website content development—whatever projects you’re doing to connect with and motivate your community or clients, let’s talk about ways I can help you.
These engagements already have me excited:
September 14-17: Retreat at Colorado Chautauqua, Bolder, CO. I’ll be facilitating some small engagement circles with other attendees here on Monday and Tuesday next week.
September 17: Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers) is part of ACLU-MD’s Constitution Day panel on surveillance, privacy, and national security at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD. Wanted to share the registration page with you but all seats are now reserved. There is a waiting list.
September 21: People’s Climate March, New York City, NY. I’m bussing into NY with the Maryland Sierra Club. As of today, our bus is sold out! The Sierra Club hopes to have 25,000 people attending under its banner—but more than 800 other organizations will also be represented. The March is designed to be a mass show of concern ahead of the UN climate summit in NY on September 23. Read more about it on the People’s Climate website, keep up with the movement via 350.org, and get a grip on the stakes by watching the short film Disruption (53 minutes; captioned in English).
My colleague Peterson Toscano and his husband Glen Retief will also be attending the PCM with the new action-awareness group Queers for Climate.
Read Peterson’s piece on the intersections between the LGBTQ community and the climate change movement. This month Peterson launches a new podcast, Climate Stew, to explore climate change with both realism and hope.
“It’s not just a one-day march. It’s our long-term ability to build a strong climate movement that we need to invest in. So being inclusive to us is really about multiple things but recognizing that we live in a society where there’s privilege, there are inequities, and in order to address the climate crisis we have to first address those inequities. That will allow us to then bring a movement strong enough to address the global economic crisis.” —Ananda Lee Tan, Climate Justice Alliance
“We have to re-prioritize what’s important to us. Our environment isn’t just ice caps melting in Antarctica. We’re the ones who face the problems day-to-day: if you’re breathing in smog or your little brother has asthma [because of environmental triggers], that’s environmental injustice, and those are things that we have the power to push back on.” —Jet T. Toomer (NYC-EJA) at the Climate Justice Youth Summit
September 24: Celebrating the “soul of justice” in worship with Many Voices, Dr. Yvette Flunder, Rev. Mykal O’Neal Slack, and others at 15th Street Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C. I’ve wanted to hear Flunder speak since 2009 when I read her book Where the Edge Gathers: Building a Community of Radical Inclusion.
October 16: The Maryland Performance Excellence Awards hosted by the Baltimore Section of the American Society for Quality (ASQ). Meetings and an awards ceremony Thursday evening will complete the 2014 examiner cycle and start a year hiatus for me. I won’t be able to serve as an examiner in 2015 because training next March clashes with the CCCC conference in Tampa, FL. More on my role at 4Cs closer to the date.
October 24-25: SDA Kinship International board meeting, Bay Area, CA. The Kinship board meets three times a year, once at its annual Kampmeeting, once by WebEx conference, and once in person on either US coast. This year the board will be setting the organization’s strategic priorities for the next 5 years.
November 1-30: #NaNoWriMo is a month-long daily writing challenge. Last year I participated as a “Rebel” (non-fiction) and wrote a lot more than I expected to. I plan to do it again, this time with a little more forethought.
So this is part of what I’ll be up to this fall. Another major part is my availability to you in support of the work you’re doing: you can hire me to help you!
What’s on your calendar for the next few months? Email me or drop me a note on my Contact page.