We had a light crowd at this month’s Steering Committee meeting last Tuesday but still managed to cover a lot of ground.

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Operational Updates | Approved: Funding Public Safety | Hiring for culture change | National Day of Civic Hacking

Green-tinged photo of OpenOakland members seated around tables in City Hall with the words 'Steering Committee' in white.

Operational updates

  • Code for America’s Network Revisioning Team has released its initial set of recommendations for its vision of the national brigade network. This is a significant body of work based on nearly a year of participatory information gathering, ideating, and feedback synthesis. OpenOakland has yet to process these recommendations as a team, but we hope to host future discussions, given how relevant this is to how we do our work locally and within the context of our fellow brigades across the U.S. If you have thoughts, we want to hear them.
  • Ombuds report: Ombuds were not in attendance, so no report this month. Attending Steering Committee members have not received any incoming reports.

Approved: Funding Public Safety becomes OpenOakland’s newest project

The Funding Public Safety team submitted its Project Exploration Worksheet in consideration of becoming an active OpenOakland project. After some discussion and important questions, the Steering Committee voted to approve the project (3 ayes and 2 abstentions, including the Project Lead).

One of the core points of discussion was around risk mitigation and unintended consequences. The team has identified several potential risks that include limited public representation/involvement, potential for misrepresentation of the data, etc. and is planning to develop a community impact assessment to brainstorm ways to mitigate these. It’s also developed a Public Interest Form to provide a feedback loop during the early development stages.

Update: Hiring professional expertise to support culture change

Following up on last month’s discussion of hiring outside expertise to help us center equity in our work, the elect team has gotten quotes from SEEDS for skills training workshops in conflict management and meeting facilitation. Costs may be negotiable on a sliding scale but represent a significant portion of our financial reserves. We’ve been in touch with two other vendors, one of whom is currently unavailable.

Our group discussed concerns about longevity of the work: how do we ensure training expertise is passed on beyond the current team? How do you socialize culture and communication skills among a volunteer team that comes and goes? Given the significant expense and the fact that we don’t have a recurring revenue stream, it’s not really feasible to retrain the Steering Committee every year.

One suggestion raised that the group seemed keen to explore was to find a free or cost-negotiable online course and make completion a requirement to serve as a project lead or elect. This supports ongoing culture development while also baking in some accountability. Elects will research potential options here and report back. Feedback is welcome.

Additionally, Jess is in conversation with Code for America’s Brigade Network Director to look for ways that CfA might support this work financially. The group agreed to invite CfA to next month’s Steering Committee meeting to brainstorm.

Vote: Participating in National Day of Civic Hacking

The group voted (4 ayes and 1 nay) to informally participate in National Day of Civic Hacking by hosting a live watch party of the Code for America proceedings. All agree it’s too late to plan and promote any kind of participatory event like a hackathon. One idea floated was to potentially host a discussion following that includes presenting any existing project work related to the day’s theme of 911 reform, and/or to partner with Code for San Francisco and Code for San Jose. Once someone on the team has committed to managing the watch party details, Jess will post and promote a Meetup event.

Steering Committee meets the Third Tuesday of each month and is open to all OpenOakland members. Read more about how Steering Committee works and how to participate. Our next meeting is September.