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  • Host a civic write-a-thon

    No matter your tech skill level, there are ways for everyone to contribute to online projects that make a difference in local government. Here, you can learn how to implement a crowdsourcing event that involves the community and begins a collaboration between government and citizens.

    Setting: Citywide

    Want to try this?

    There may be some people who want to join you.

    Organization/people involved

    Code for America
    Code for Hawaii
    Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.

    What they did

    After interviewing people who worked for the city of Honolulu, Code for America fellows compiled a list of the municipality’s most pressing needs. What emerged was the idea for an interface that allows citizens to easily access government information. The Honolulu Answers website was built in three months, but then it needed some content! Thus the write-a-thon was born. Code for America tapped Burt Lum, a local tech and open data evangelist, who in turn brought others in the tech community to the table.

    On a Saturday in June 2012, over 55 community members and city employees collaborated on researching and writing 120 answers to common civic questions.

    How you can do it

    Neighborhow has written a terrific guide on how to host your own write-a-thon, which you can read here, but we’ve excerpted and summarized some of it below:


    Honolulu Answers continues to serve its fair city, and the idea has begun to spread—first to Oakland, then to Western Michigan(their guide specifically answers environmental questions).

    Big takeaways

    Burt says you’ll want to find champions working in local government who want to partner with you.


    Photo credit: Burt Lum / bytemarks

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