May 9: Civic Hacking & Coder Cooperative Meetup

Rosie riveter, Appleton, May 9, 2016The next NE Wisconsin civic hacking event will happen in Appleton on Monday evening, May 9, 2016 at the Appleton Makerspace as a combined meetup with the Coder Cooperative. The official start of the joint Coder Cooperative & Civic Hacking meetup is at 7 PM. However, the makerspace door will be open at 6 PM for people who want are new to civic hacking and those who want to discuss different civic hacking ideas or projects before the official start of the meetup.

What Is Civic Hacking?

Everyone describes civic hacking a little differently, but here’s one definition:

Civic hacking is collaborating with others to create, build and invent freely-shared (open source) solutions using publicly-released data and technology to solve social, economic, and environmental challenges relevant to their neighborhood, city, state, or country. These civic challenges include information-based topics like voter registration, public transit, helping consumers buy homes and helping families choose schools. But civic hacking can also mean building a better neighborhood park, or working to fix horrendous potholes in the city’s roads. The goals of civic hacking are as diverse as the different types of people who are civic hackers. Civic hackers can be programmers, designers, data scientists, good communicators, civic organizers, entrepreneurs, government employees and anyone willing to get his or her hands dirty solving community problems.

If this is the first you’ve heard of that concept, or if you’re fairly new to the concept and haven’t heard Catherine Bracy explain it, listen to the “Why Good Hackers Make Good Citizens” TED video below.

What Is The Coder Cooperative?

The Coder Cooperative meets weekly on Monday evenings 7pm-9pm for the betterment of people endeavoring to learn and explore the domain of software development. See the group’s web page for more details.

Since there is some overlap between civic hacking activities and Coder Cooperative meetings, it was decided to have a combined meetup and either kill two birds with one stone or to encourage cross-pollination between the two groups. Or both.

When Is The Meetup?

This joint meetup will be on Monday night, May 9, 2016.

The official start of the meetup is 7 PM. At that time’ll do a quick round of introductions for everyone, briefly explain both civic hacking and the Coder Cooperative, then dive right into coding or working on civic hack projects. Or both, if you happen to be working on coding for a civic hack.

The Appleton Makerspace door will be open at 6 PM on May 9 for people who want to show up early to discuss civic hacking. If you’re new to the concept, I can tell you what civic hackers have done over the past year, as well as some of the work civic hackers have done in other areas. You can also show up early if you know what civic hacking is, but want to discuss civic hack projects for a while before the official start of the May 9 joint meetup. Civic hackers who know exactly what they want to accomplish on May 9 are also invited to show up at 6 PM and go right to work.

appleton makerspaceWhere Is The Joint Meetup?

The Appleton Makerspace is located at 121R B North Douglas Street, Appleton, WI. Click here to see it on Google Maps. Also click here to go to the makerspace About Us page and look at the overhead diagram of the building. There’s a Google Streetview on the About Us page so you’ll know what the area looks like from Douglas Street. An overhead diagram of the building layout is shown to the right.

Who Should Come To The Meetup?

Everyone who’s interested in civic hacking, or thinks they might be, and everyone who learn and explore the domain of software development should come to this event.

9 block graphic from CfA

Some different types of civic hackers

Coders will enjoy the fun at the civic hacking meetup, but non-coders are also encouraged to participate, as discussed in “What Are Some Non-coder Activities In Civic Hacking?” and “Do Non-Programmers Participate In Civic Hacking?” There will be at least one person who’s neither coder at the May 9 event; you definitely don’t need to be a coder to participate in civic hacking.

If you haven’t been at a civic hacking meetup before, no worries. We’ll bring you up to speed and answer your questions about civic hacking. This is a participant-driven event, and we’d love to have YOUR participation.

What Should I Bring?

The main things to bring are (1) yourself, (2) friends or acquaintances who might enjoy civic hacking or general coding activities, (3) smartphone, tablet or laptop if you want to look at websites or work on a code project, and (4) willingness to listen and share your two cents’ worth about coding topics or about which civic hacks are worthwhile and interesting to work on.

See more information about civic hacking at DHMN Civic Hacks (Distributed Hacker/Maker Network).

If you’re on the NE Wisconsin Slack team, check out the #dhmncivichacks channel, and if you’re not on that Slack team, go to to join.

As always, if you have civic hacking questions or suggestions, email Bob Waldron at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.

Hope to see you on the evening of May 9,2016!


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