Summit Preview: People Power + Community

Get a sneak peek of the events, speakers, and themes in the People Power + Community track of Code for America Summit 2022
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Code for America Summit 2022 is happening May 17–18. This year, our speakers will lead breakout sessions in four tracks: Service Design + Delivery, Policy + Administration, Operations + Management, People Power + Community. In this preview, we’ll be focusing on People Power + Community. This track is all about the power of organizing, advocacy, and the convergence of bringing government and its constituents together to work together inclusively so that government can better serve its people.

To find out more, we spoke with Summit content committee members Hashim Mteuzi, the Program Director of Civic Technology Fellowships and Partnerships at Code for America; Melanie Mazanec, the Associate Director of Human-Centered Government at Code for America; and Mohith Rao, the Brigade Captain for OpenSTL and a member of the Code for America National Advisory Committee.

Why did we choose this topic? Why is it particularly relevant now?

Over a decade ago, Code for America was founded on the belief that government can work for the people, by the people, in the digital age. It isn’t only people’s civic duty to participate, it’s government’s duty to make that participation easy and accessible, and to fully include those who are most impacted by policy and implementation decisions. Government has not traditionally done so, often acting unilaterally with after-the-fact notification or lip-service community outreach. 

A core principle of Human-Centered Government is putting people first, which means that government must be responsive to the people it serves. This means it has to be accessible, available, simple, interactive, and human. Government decision-makers must develop a deep understanding of the needs of the people the government serves, and prioritize those needs over all else. Government services should solve a complete problem for people, and meet them where they are in life. 

In the spirit of this year’s Summit theme, “Building the path forward, together,” we hope that this track highlights how people can come together and influence government, and also how government can proactively engage people in the co-design of critical government services. 

Can you give an example of a problem that could be solved by considering strategies that will be brought up by this track?

Centering residents, especially those with lived experience, is an often overlooked part of bringing community into government. Many of the sessions in this track will have an element of how governments can proactively bring in people who are directly impacted by government decisions and have them involved in the decision-making, flipping the traditional top-down paradigm. This track will show multiple contexts of this and we are quite excited about that! 

What will be uniquely valuable about this track?

This track really brings out the “for the people, by the people” part of Code for America’s vision! We are excited to highlight so many different interesting examples of how various governments and community-based organizations are making this happen.  

Want to see more of the People Power + Community track? Browse through all our session descriptions here or check out a sample of sessions in this track below:

  • A resident-centered approach to driving local solutions
  • Iterating community-centered design initiatives: Moving towards shared decision making in local government
  • Design justice: Achieving the full and equitable integration of community members with lived experience in systems co-design, implementation, and evaluation

Hear from speakers in government, non-profits, and the private sector, like: 

  • Eric Jackson, Manager, Office of Data & Performance, City of Asheville
  • Ashley Cortez, Design Lead, Service Design Studio at the NYC Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity
  • Mary Arthur, Executive Director, Campaign for Working Families
  • Jimmieka Mills, Co-Founder, Equitable Spaces
  • Kevin Shanker Sinha, Founder, CivicGeorgia

Still haven’t signed up for Summit yet? Tickets for the 2022 Code for America Summit, happening May 17-18, are still on sale. Register for Summit today!

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