Love letter to Austin

It’s time to say thanks to the dedicated public servants that helped our Fellows navigate City Hall and champion our mission. And to the Cities that opened their doors, their minds, and their databases to the 2012 Fellows.

In the last hours of the 2012 Fellowship, we, the Code for America Austin team, wanted to send a giant love-bomb your way out of gratitude for what made this year so important to us.

To say we’ve been blown away by all the great people we’ve met and had the pleasure to work with this year would be an understatement. It’s bittersweet that we’ll be moving on, when we’ve developed such close connections to many of you, and have felt welcome and at home in Austin over the past year.

Within a year, It’s been delightful to see Austin

  • elect a CfA Brigade Captain Chip Rosenthal
  • grow the data portal from 20 to 150+
  • vote to open an innovation office
  • worked with the Austin Fire Department and some awesome fire-prepared residents to launch and help residents stay more prepared for wildfire
  • the Austin Animal Shelter to launch StrayMapper and reunite runaway pets with their owners
  • the Watershed department to launch ATXfloods ( and help drivers find road closures during flash floods
  • Together we made two hackathons happen
  • In September here in San Francisco, we loved hosting four great City of Austin leaders at our CfA Summit.

It’s been a busy, action packed year, and frankly we’ve gotten some serious sh*t accomplished.

To all of our partners at the City of Austin…

You’ve impressed us on a daily basis with the great work you are doing, and your willingness to be innovative. You’ve cut through the bureaucracy and made many things happen during our short Fellowship year. We were pushy, but you’ve been patient, gracious, and awesome throughout.

And to our city contacts:

Matthew Esquibel, thank you for putting up with our impossible and endless requests, and congratulations on new role. Doug Matthews: you’ve been a true ally and have moved mountains in the name of progress. And congratulations on Baby Matthews!

To Open Austin, the Brigade, and the civic tech community…

All of you who’ve come out to hackathons to work on civic data, organized events, partnered with us to make apps, showed up at city hall meetings, and otherwise stepped up to make this year what it’s been: we look forward to watching as you disrupt Austin and push it forward (looking at you real-time-bus-tracking and paper timesheets). More importantly, we hope you keep building and celebrating the awesome stuff like urban gardens, public art, government transparency, and city engagement through hackathons.

We encourage all of you to stay connected and continue reinventing citizenship. As Abhi Nemani puts it: be outward looking, supportive, and proactive. These are big goals, but with concrete steps to get there. Some of them include:

  1. Be invested: Pay attention to your city, show up, vote, and watch channel 6 sometimes. Figure out what that being a citizen means to you, and be that 100%.
  2. Stay connected: Sign up for the Open Austin mailing list and go to the monthly civic tech meetups. Get to know you’re brigade captain Chip Rosenthal. Think of him as the epicenter.
  3. Be critical, but also contribute: There are things to complain about, but then follow through to build context around the problem, and help create solutions. Find ways to make the things you’re good at useful to the community, and you’ll find that public service can be a great way to build your skills.
  4. Focus on working together: Help push citizenship from DIY (do it yourselves) to DIO (do it ourselves). Something we like to say here “You can go fast, alone. You can go far, together.”

The CfA Summit:

Thanks to those who joined us at the Code for America Summit! You can check out all the videos here, or watch our presentation embedded below (link).

Fellows teams presented city spotlights, teams demo’ed apps and much more in front of an audience of more than 40 governments! Paul M. Davis for curated them here.

Team Austin over and out.

Emily Wright

@emilyville // [email protected]

Joe Merante

@joemerante // [email protected]

Aurelio Tino

@tinio // [email protected]

Questions? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.

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