GOV 2.0 Gift Guide: Rest & Reflection for 2013

This holiday season you may be traveling far and wide in search of some R&R before the coming year, you might be reconnecting with family, you may be working yourself to the bone as 2014 too quickly approaches, or perhaps headed to one last holiday fiesta.

What I often find during the holiday season, between Game of Thrones marathons, semi-vulgar caroling, and the odd accidental holiday gouging as someone attempts to cook new recipe, is that Type-A tendencies start to (inevitably) surface and folks want to get on with tackling their Q1 goals for 2014.

My advice to you, for this holiday season, is to find time for yourself and find some time to do good for others. In effort to persuade you to do both, I’ve compiled a rest and reflection focused gift guide.

If you just want to procure some geeky goodies, you can check out The Gov 2.0 Gift Guide I penned last year. I recommend you grab your last minute gifts from your local community shops or through Amazon Smile, where a small percentage of the proceeds goes toward supporting your favorite do-gooders (including Code for America. Though if you give to another worthy charity we’ll forgive you, we promise… ;-) )


Or, better known as “disconnect to reconnect.” Working in a startup, in government, or anywhere, the 24/7 connectivity gets overwhelming. For me, disconnection from all my devices seems more than welcome. In effort to disconnect I’ve planned yoga retreats, trips to the local organic smoothie shop, and meanders through scenic spots like Ukiah, Calif. in the coming weeks. I’m pretty much sold myself of the idea of digital disconnection. I suggest you do the same.

Do it:


Tired of watching the Peanuts Christmas with your five year nephew, again? Take a break from the brain-drain and pick up Anthony Townsend’s Smart Cities to learn more about how hackers and governments are already leveraging web technologies to reshape how we build, manage, and think about our cities.

Buy it:


Now, let’s fast-forward a little bit to 2014. Let’s make being a better citizen part of our new year’s resolution. One part of being a good citizen is actively participating in our community. We all participate in our communities in different ways, whether it be by voting or by delivering a hot meal to a neighbor down the street. Here are two civic techie ways to start giving back:

Do you have awesome hacker, product, ninja, or cooking skills? We’re all skilled at something. So share your skills with someone who wants to learn them. Be a mentor. Head over to your local community center and coach a sport or head here to Code for America — we need all sorts of folks to guide our Fellows, startups, and community hackers. Sign up and become part of a growing network imparting their skills and advice to new leaders in the civic tech community.

Sign up:

Fruit cakes, turkeys, and latkes oh my! During the holidays we spend a good deal of our time eating. Although food may be prolific in our lives it’s good to remind ourself it’s not so abundant for all. Back before Thanksgiving my friend Hannah wrote a great blog post about different ways you can help increase access to food and food services. Give it a read, and give back to your community.

Give back:


Take advantage of free classes from our friends at The Gov Lab @ NYU. It covers everything from public mapping to data and its governance. The classes are in version 1, which means you’ll be a part of a growing community and can help make these trainings even better.

Educate yourself:

Have any other ideas for fun civic tech gifts for the holiday season? Share them in them with us @codeforamerica.

Happy Holidays!

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