Civic tech gains momentum at CityCamp Minnesota

CityCamp-Minnesota2-300x144CityCamp Minnesota — back again for the first time in two years, constituents from various backgrounds, interests and cities gathered downtown Minneapolis at University of St. Thomas — Schulze Hall yesterday for a day of networking and communication.

The topics focused on strengthening our communities through civic engagement in the form of digital inclusion, open government, and collaboration among the private, public and non-profit sector. Decentralized in nature, 24 breakout sessions were organically formed by 150 participants, creating a highly interactive format rich with relevant topics.

We talked with the driving forces behind CityCamp for an in-depth conversation about the unconference, as well as some recent highlights for Open Twin Cities.

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CityCamp Minnesota unconference to foster civic tech

CityCamp MinnesotaCityCamp Minnesota is returning this November for a day of learning, discussing, and imagining how to use technology to strengthen communities and create more open government.

Two years has passed since the first CityCamp unconference took place, a solid gathering that drew over 100 participants together in the name of civic tech.   Co-organized by E-democracy.org & Open Twin Cities, this years event will take place on Saturday, November 9th in Minneapolis at the University of St. Thomas –Schulze Hall.

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In St. Paul, neighborhood block clubs go virtual

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By Nicole Norfleet, Star Tribune

“Block clubs are going virtual. More and more neighbors who in the past would have organized community meetings to share news of the latest garage break-in or bike theft are now turning online to discuss crime.

After last month’s almost fatal beating of a man in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood of St. Paul, residents used the online forum at E-Democracy.org as a way to talk about the incident and exchange ideas on crime solutions.”

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E-Democracy receives $625k from Knight for BeNeighbors.org online forums

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Via News Release

“February 15, 2012 (St. Paul, Minn.) — A new campaign aims to brings together St. Paul’s diverse communities through online forums where neighbors can stay informed, get connected and build community.

BeNeighbors.org, launched by E-Democracy, is setting out to reach 10,000 neighborhood forum participants in St. Paul over the next three years, bringing the total percentage of households engaging with E-Democracy’s many online forums to 10 percent citywide. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is providing $625,000 in support.”

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CityCamp Coming to Minnesota

While it isn’t exactly what one Minnesotan had wished for, our state is about to take big initial step towards connecting local technical talent with the public sector when CityCamp rolls into town this fall.

Championed by the founder of E-Democracy.org and Ashoka fellow Steven Clift, the local unconference is scheduled for Saturday, November 12th at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Center.

Clift anticipates that a diversity of programmers, digital creatives and entrepreneurs will turnout to interact with other interested peers, including representatives from local government IT and communications departments.  The guiding framework will explore:

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Digital Inclusion Fund Awards 100k in Grants for Improving Technology Access & Literacy in Minnesota

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Via News Release

The Digital Inclusion Fund has awarded 11 grants totaling $100,000 to organizations across the city for programs to promote technology access and technology literacy. These are the third set of grants awarded from the Digital Inclusion Fund, which was created in 2007 as part of the “Wireless Minneapolis” contract between the City of Minneapolis and US Internet Wireless, the company that owns, built and manages the citywide wireless network. “

The 11 recipients are:

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The Solution for Neighborhood Improvement? E-Democracy for All

by Tristan Pollock

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E-Democracy.org

In 1994, Steven Clift, founder of E-Democracy.org and Ashoka Fellow, spawned  the world’s first election information Web site.

That accomplishment led him to the development of a local model and other scalable online initiatives to bring together neighborhood communities across Minnesota, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. “We’re interested in how to connect everyday people in Internet life,” Clift says.

Clift and local volunteers took E-Democracy to the city level in 1998 with the Minneapolis Issues Forum, the success of which caught the attention of the British government. Britain embraced the idea of city-wide online community involvement and wanted to push the envelope farther to reach neighborhoods. The model was even more effective in the cities of Bristol and Oxford because it built community and engaged everyday citizens, not just the most political. Based on this success, E-Democracy.org created neighborhood Issues Forums within Minneapolis and St. Paul — places where neighbors can discuss issues in their community.

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