Hands-on Learning Workshops will Get New Yorkers into Nuts and Bolts of Tech

CITY HALL, NY– Today, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the City Council announced that the New York City Council will collaborate with Mozilla to bring a digital literacy series to the five boroughs that will help New Yorkers envision themselves as creators of technology. The series will consist of five “Digital Maker” events that will include several learning stations guided by experienced facilitators. Participants will have a chance to modify source code on Web pages, design their own animation, or compose music, among other exercises that will allow them to see the results of their own work.

“I am thrilled to work with the Mozilla Foundation towards ensuring that more New Yorkers see themselves in the driver’s seat of technology and imagine new, empowering pathways for themselves and their communities,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I’ve long believed in the potential of technology to be an eye-opening force for democracy, but that impact must be felt in diverse corners of our City. This collaboration with Mozilla is a step in that direction.”

“We see this as a real opportunity for more NYC residents to increase their web literacy and become producers, not just consumers, in the digital world. We are thrilled to partner with Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and to support a digitally-inclusive New York City in which everyone has access, agency and understanding of the open Web,” said Chris Lawrence, VP of Learning, Mozilla Foundation.

The Speaker made the announcement at the “Digital Inclusion: 2015 Community Summit”, the start of an effort to convene a range of constituencies— including immigrants, youth of color and senior citizens— to discuss how the Council can develop digital strategies that are responsive to the diverse communities it serves.

“In the pursuit of delivering competent and comprehensive service, I am proud to join the Speaker at today’s Digital Inclusion Summit,” said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the New York City Council’s Committee on Technology. “As Council Member and a former District Manager, having a finger on the pulse of your community is vital when delivering impactful services to one’s constituents. The digital era is giving us many tools to deliver constituent services. I hope to hear from many of the summit’s participants on how the Council can become more digitally accessible.”

The Summit, which took place at Civic Hall, and subsequent discussions, will inform the development of the Council’s best practices around digital inclusion, which is at the core of “Council 2.0” – a roadmap for engagement and open government,” presented in April.

“New Yorkers deserve a digitally engaged and responsive government,” said Andrew Rasiej, founder of Civic Hall. “This initiative will empower New Yorkers from diverse backgrounds and allow all in our city greater access to technology that will shape the future. I thank Speaker Mark-Viverito and the City Council for this forward thinking and innovative initiative.”

“We applaud Speaker Mark-Viverito for holding this summit to begin making the Council more accessible to all New Yorkers. This is particularly important for Latino and immigrant communities, and working-class communities of color more generally, who often remain on the outside of conversations about civic technology. We look forward to the Summit and to the tools that we expect to emerge, which we expect will deepen the connection between our communities and the government that serves them,” Javier Valdés, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York.

The Council will also participate in BetaNYC’s Hack Night as part of the BigApps civic challenge. The Council is encouraging teams to propose digital solutions for Participatory Budgeting (PB). Under PB, constituents of participating Council districts attend neighborhood assemblies and vote on which public projects will receive discretionary funding. The last cycle of PB generated high participation from teenagers, women and low-income New Yorkers, among others.

“We’re excited to host our first hacknight with the NYC Council Speaker’s Office, and even more so, around such a truly democratic effort like Participatory Budgeting,” said Noel Hidalgo, executive director of BetaNYC. “Our hacknights are fun opportunities to engage civic-minded technologists in the spirit of advancing great ideas. We are happy to partner with the Council for its BigApps challenge and explore how we can improve ourselves and our City.”

For more information about Council 2.0, visit http://council.nyc.gov/html/tech/tech.shtml