We had a pretty amazing year in 2017  – we showed up and we mattered, and that is something to celebrate.

We will do no less in 2018. Our hope, though, is to do much more by making it much easier for you both to contribute to the work and to participate in the community.

One change that we hope will make Code for Asheville more welcoming to less experienced coders is to designate one Community Night every quarter to learning and portfolio development. We’ll try to keep it interesting for all levels, but our commitment is to make sure those with less experience are particularly able to benefit. Our first event will be April 12, when we’ll demonstrate how to use City of Asheville data through REST and GraphQL APIs to build apps and dashboards. We’ll have starter projects that make use of both so you can stand up a working application right away.

Also at least once a quarter we will devote a meeting to making progress on some common project. At these events there will always be opportunities for both technical and non-technical folks. Our first event will be next month, when we will completely revamp the Code for Asheville website. It has suffered an ongoing identity crisis (who am I for?!) for a couple years now and it’s time to give it some real love. We’ll need some WordPress and design and web development folks, but we also especially need people who don’t know a lot about Code for Asheville, Code for America, civic tech, or coding (since that’s largely who the website is for).

The third event in the quarterly rotation will vary from member project showcases to outside speakers to […insert your own answer here]. We’d love to hear your suggestions. In the meantime, we expect that the March meeting will be a project showcase – stay tuned for more.

We will continue our focus on social justice issues, working with community groups, local governments and other brigades on issues ranging from criminal justice to homelessness to equalizing economic and educational opportunity. One area we hope to expand is our collaboration with community groups on the use of data to better understand issues and work for positive change.

Finally, we are committed to making it easier for you to contribute.

We will be helping project leaders break big projects into manageable, documented bits of work that you can do in a few hours on your own. We’ll help them prepare for group work sessions at a Community Night or dedicated project hackathon that let you show up and have fun while making a difference.

There are also opportunities to help in small, ongoing ways. Can you pick up pizza for community nights? Take information from the newsletter and promote it on Facebook? Poll project leads to get updates? Help plan community nights and other events? Write a brief newsletter article on a project or our latest gathering? There are lots of ways to get involved at every level of commitment.

We will be reaching out shortly with a survey to learn more about your interests and about ways we can help you plug in – please do respond and let us know.

Looking forward to working with all of you in 2018 to make our community better!