Dear Code for Asheville friends,

First, we have an announcement. Co-captain Jesse Michel, who has helped to lead the brigade for the past couple years, will be leaving his captain’s position and transitioning to a core team-member role. Jesse is looking forward to using his more technical skills to contribute to the group, and using the knowledge acquired as captain to support the new leadership.

With this change, we are looking for new leadership to step in and help shape the Code for Asheville organization. As part of this transition, we want to take time to reflect on who we are and to rethink how we want to operate, evaluating what works, and what can be improved.

We feel like Code for Asheville is at a crossroads.

On the one hand, we are extremely proud of the work we’ve done over the years. Code for Asheville has frequently appeared in local and national press. More importantly, we have made and are making a positive difference in our community. Our members are responsible for getting an open data policy passed by City Council, for helping to support data-driven discussions about issues vital to our community, for building resources to help local citizens who are homeless as well as those who are reentering the community after incarceration, and for one of the first open budget sites in NC. And we believe that we are only getting started.

At the same time, we face a couple key challenges. First, the Code for Asheville community and especially its core team and leadership need to better reflect the diversity of our community. We firmly believe that our ability to serve the community effectively depends on this. Second, we have not yet unlocked the secret of broadening participation. Too many projects find themselves dependent on ongoing “heroic” efforts by one or two people rather than unlocking a variety of ways for people to contribute at a range of commitment levels.

We suspect these challenges are related, that building a leadership team which better reflects our community may require a different participation model, one that provides ways for people to engage gradually and that offers opportunities for a range of talents, not just technical ones.

We need your help to explore new ways forward. We especially need your participation in the conversation. Come join in the discussion at our next meetup, or offer your thoughts in our Facebook group, on Slack, or on Twitter. In addition, we’ll be reaching out to you individually to hear your perspectives.

We don’t know exactly how this will go, but we are looking forward to writing the next chapter of Code for Asheville together.

Eric & Jesse

This article is from the semi-weekly Code for Asheville newsletter. See the rest of this issue here. Sign up for future mailings here.