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.
I heard once that firefighters have a master key — one which lets them access any building in the city. More than any uniform, words, or state-of-the-art technology, that key is what lets them fight fires. It lets them in.
At Code for America, we have our own uniforms, jargon, and gadgets. That set-up may help us in technology circles, but getting Code for America through doors inside city hall remains a tricky process. The first determinant of where a team goes and where we connect with officials is the city contact. Team Macon’s city contact was Amanda Deaton.
From early on, Amanda set up meetings which showed us the scope of city services. She worked with the Knight Foundation to get us meetings outside of city hall, too, through a network which seemed to extend everywhere. Not every meeting led to an exchange of data or an inspirational project, but we got a sense of a city that I would miss when I pitched in on other projects.
Then there were some meetings which could have scared us. Amanda got approval for us to sit in on a review of IT within emergency services. We were writing pages of notes on gaps that needed to be filled, every technology that the city was considering. When the meeting started to get heated, Amanda stopped everything to let us introduce ourselves. Within the hour, we were getting a tour of the city’s nuclear bunker and making an appointment to visit a police precinct. Somehow everything worked out okay.
There’s a point where you’re sketching a process for Amanda and she fills in the lines, because she wrote the budget for that department. There’s a point where you joke about it being your first time in the South, and later you’re meeting the fire inspector at a monster truck rally. She put us on the right track for making our own meetings, planning our projects, and defending our mission.
Thanks Amanda! We couldn’t have done it without you.
Questions? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.