About Us

Ottawa Civic Tech (YOWCT) is an effort to strengthen the community of people in Ottawa who want to build civic good. We are people who think bringing together policy, technology & inspiration can solve tough problems and make our communities better.

We believe that the goal of most Civic Tech groups is to provide a safe place to practice citizen engagement (with fellow citizens, with elected officials, and with public servants). We believe in the incredible communities of people who hone their crafts day in and day out in key civic areas to like design, policy, activism, or software development. Yet despite talking about silos for many decades, we are still not good at bringing people together who should know each other.

We believe healthy citizen engagement can’t and won’t happen through one-offs. Just as gaining a skill takes practice, engaging takes more than a few minutes by a ballot box every 4 years. We believe that for our communities to practice citizen engagement, that needs to come at very low costs, with low barriers to entry and without added pressures that come with expensive hackathons or time-limited consultations.

We believe deep communities of practice require more than being aware of one another; we need to know each other, and that comes by sharing real life things like eating together, and learning each others’ lingo, professional quirks, and thought processes. We believe the ‘open’ mentality (open source software, open government) is allowing both individual and swarms of people (big and small) to build on each other’s work in a non-competitive, non-hierarchical, and non-traditional way, in ways that get at addressing real needs in our communities.

How we work

After a summer and fall of discussion, hacking, and civic engagement with you in our pilot 10 sessions over summer and fall 2016, we were excited to officially launch YOWCT in its new format on November 1st, 2016.

Our “hacknights” take place weekly on Tuesdays from 6:00-8:30pm. The first Tuesday of the month features a guest speaker, followed by projects updates and pitches of ideas for new projects. Subsequent weeks of the month allows us to focus on “hacking”, or making progress on our various projects.

We take free RSVPs on our Meetup page (http://www.meetup.com/YOW_CT), which is where you will find information on the location and agendas for upcoming hacknights. Everyone who works on or aspires to work on civic projects is welcome. In addition to meeting them at our hacknights, you can also work with them virtually through our Slack group (request an invite here) by reaching out directly to the participants of current/ongoing projects to connect with them on how you can contribute or support their projects.

Special Events

Occasionally, we co-host special events with like-minded community partners. In October 2016, for example, we co-hosted a great, sold out event around “Opening Up Canada’s Parliament” with Open North, ParlAmericas, Open Data Ottawa, and Impact Hub Ottawa.