Open Austin is a volunteer citizen brigade advocating for open government, open data, and civic application development since 2009. We are an official brigade affiliated with the nonprofit Code for America which believes government can work for the people, by the people in the 21st century. Open Austin is focused on the needs of our own community and we use design, technology, and open data to improve the quality of life in our city.


Our Roots

Open Austin was formed in 2009 by citizens interested in the City of Austin web strategy and approach to the procurement of a new website management system (link to Austin Chronicle article). Through a series of conversations, common ground was developed between the City and Open Austin to partner on civic technology issues. Open Austin has served as an advisor and advocate for community technology issues ever since. The outcome of this process was when, at the end of 2011, the City of Austin unveiled its new website. The new site developed by city staff, working in conjunction with local technology companies, based on a free and open source content publishing platform. Also, a dedicated open government data portal, was released. Further, the City announced that Austin would sponsor a Code for America open government fellowship.

Presently, Open Austin focuses on ensuring that all local public sector agencies embrace open data and open government principles, provide adequate oversight over public information, and support civic software developers.

In 2011, we advocated for the creation of an “Open Government” policy. In December 2011, the Austin City Council adopted an open government resolution. In 2012, we advocated for the creation of a “Civic Innovation Office” in the city. In September 2012, the Austin City Council approved “seed funding” to create a civic innovation office.

We continue to actively engage the city on open government issues. We coordinate our efforts online, through an open email list and periodic in-person meetups. You can contact us at: [email protected]


Our Leadership

We are an all-volunteer organization. The Core Team helps coordinate Open Austin efforts.

You can reach us at: [email protected]

  • Mateo Clarke – Brigade Captain – [email protected]
  • Luqmaan Dawoodjee – Delivery Lead – [email protected]
  • Victoria O’Dell – Marketing Lead – [email protected]
  • Amalie Barras – Membership Lead – [email protected]
  • Marco Pineda – Event Lead
  • Matt Carey – Policy Lead – [email protected]
  • Chip Rosenthal – Director Emeritus

Code of Conduct

Open Austin is committed to broad community participation, and making our events enjoyable and rewarding for everybody who participates. We provide this Code of Conduct In the interest of facilitating a positive, nurturing experience for all.

We expect participants at our events and activities to:

  1. Keep a safe and respectful environment for all other participants.
  2. Act to ensure other participants are free to fully express their identities.
  3. Recognize that participants have different backgrounds and levels of experience. Everybody should be welcome, questions encouraged, and mentoring opportunities sought.
  4. Bring positive efforts and skills to bear, and prefer language such as “yes/and” to “no/but.”
  5. Strive to listen as much as they speak.
  6. Strive to build tools that are open and free technology for public use. Support efforts to prioritize activities that aim to foster public use, not private gain.
  7. Support efforts to prioritize access for and input from those who are traditionally excluded from the civic process.
  8. Work to ensure that the community is well-represented in the planning, design, and implementation of civic tech. This includes encouraging participation from women, minorities, and traditionally marginalized groups.
  9. Actively involve community groups and those with subject matter expertise in the decision-making process.
  10. Ensure that the relationships and conversations between community members, the local government staff and community partners remain respectful, participatory, and productive.
  11. Provide an environment where people are free from discrimination or harassment.

Event organizers reserve the right to take action, up to and including expulsion, in response to violations of these policies.

We will lend our name and support only to events and activities conducted under a code of conduct that is substantially similar to this.

Anti-Harassment Policy

All Open Austin events and their staff, presenters, and participants are held to an anti-harassment policy, included below.

In addition to governing our own events by this policy, Open Austin will only lend our name and fund groups that offer an anti-harassment policy to their attendees. For information on how to offer an anti-harassment policy to your group, see this guide.

Open Austin is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, nationality, age, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of staff, presenters, and participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any Open Austin event or network activity, including talks. Anyone in violation of these policies may expelled from Open Austin events or network activities, at the discretion of the event organizers.

Harassment includes but is not limited to: offensive verbal or written comments related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion; sexual images in public spaces; deliberate intimidation; stalking; following; harassing photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact; unwelcome sexual attention; unwarranted exclusion; and patronizing language or action.

If a participant engages in harassing behavior, the event organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from Open Austin events and network activities.

If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of the event staff immediately. You can contact them at [email protected] or 210-837-3353 (Mateo Clarke, mobile). Event staff will help participants contact hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the event.

If you cannot reach an event organizer and/or it is an emergency, please call 911 and/or remove yourself from the situation.

We value your attendance and hope that by communicating these expectations widely we can all enjoy a harassment-free environment

Credits

This code of conduct and anti-harassment policy are based on ones published by Code for America at https://github.com/codeforamerica/codeofconduct

The Code for America anti-harassment policy is based on the example policy from the Geek Feminism wiki, created by the Ada Initiative and other volunteers. It also incorporates aspects from several other policies, including the Ohio LinuxFest anti-harassment policy, written by Esther Filderman and Beth Lynn Eicher, and the Con Anti-Harassment Project. Mary Gardiner, Valerie Aurora, Sarah Smith, and Donna Benjamin generalized the policies and added supporting material. Many members of LinuxChix, Geek Feminism and other groups contributed to this work.

This code of conduct was adopted by 11-0 vote of online participants, October 23, 2014.

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