First, let’s be clear, I’m not a coder. Not even close. I’m a some-time racquetball player, part-time marketer, and full-time activist. The later two being the reason why I joined up with Code for America.
Ever since I realized that America, land of liberty, was an entirely preconceived notion — I’ve found myself pondering the coastline curves of Stanley Park, and thinking about defecting to our Northern brethren for the free healthcare and clean(er) air. However not long ago during one of my mid-day musings I realized that America’s got a hold on me. I’ve lived here, in America, my entire life — less that six month pasta-making/wine-drinking stint in Italy. This is my country, and though I wouldn’t categorize myself as “proud to be an American,” I am proud to be part of the noble masses fighting to make this country a better place for all of us to be.
The way I see it is the only way to solve issues, native and foreign, is to pool our collective resources (read: brains & bucks) and will. I am one of the willful. And I really do believe that America can be better — and although I don’t derive my self-pride from my country of origin — a better America is something that I can take pride in. Moreover, a better America is essential, seeing as we’re catapulting towards a homeland whose sum total equals a wealthy, but not elite, citizenry. Perhaps a bit of an overstate, but if we follow this current trajectory I’m not sure I’m all that far off base. You see, our governments and social services are overburdened, and if you don’t have the money to buy things like your health, you simply don’t get them. It’s time we reclaim America for all Americans.
It’s time we lend a hand to our social services, particularly those we ourselves rely on, and to our governments. The infrastructure constructed by our city, state, and national governments was put into place eons ago — and they are ill-equipped to handle the severely bloated populations of our communities. Although an overhaul is assuredly needed we cannot rely on that day ever coming, and rubbernecking never does anyone any good. So, in the meantime, I’m happy to be part of an organization, chock-full of people far smarter than I, that offers much needed aid to our governments. Because if we don’t make America better, I’m not kidding, I’m joining the diaspora north.
I came late to civic engagement. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that it dawned on me that civic involvement means more than vote casting. Perhaps they should have offered a civics class at my highfalutin high school. However, I was the girl that grew up volunteering in food banks and cooking dinner at the local family shelter. So if not civically engaged at least I can claim to had been civically responsible. Now, I claim both.
Why am I Coding for America? Because the fact that a simple app can make an individual take stock of their environmental impact, the fact that an app can facilitate strangers working together to rectify a neighborhood nuisance, or the fact that an app can aggregate all the social services in a given area so the neediest in our society can actually get what they need, is crazy cool. Because I have haven’t given up on American quite yet.
And because geeks save the day, and I think we can all agree, that today, America needs saving.
So for now, I’m putting down the picket sign and picking up my laptop.