Ask not what your city can do for you – ask what you can do for your city

When President John F. Kennedy famously proclaimed “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” a sense of civic pride was embedded into our patriotic psyche and Americans were given the money quote needed to do more than just complain about their government.

As municipalities struggle to make ends meet, here are five ways you can do for your city.


CityCampStart a CityCamp where you live. CityCamp is an unconference focused on innovation for municipal governments and community organizations. Founded by Kevin Curry and Jen Pahlka, the first camp was held in Chicago, Illinois, January 23-24, 2010. To date, camps have been held in San Francisco, London, Colorado, Edmonton and many other cities across the world. If you’ve got deep pockets (or even pocket change), support and sponsor CityCamp.


Third Thursdays SFStart a local civictech meet-up. In San Francisco, Gov 2.0 Radio‘s Adriel Hampton and I founded Third Thursdays SF, a monthly happy hour that gathers civic entrepreneurs, tech-savvy government officials, civic developers and open government advocates together to connect with one another. Consistency is key and a regular meet-up will help establish a sustainable foundation for your local community.


Work directly with your local public officials and help give them a Gov 2.0 city makeover. In September 2010, former Manor, TX, CIO Dustin Haisler led a makeover for De Leon, TX, that included a new Website, as well as other technology and social media tools to better connect citizens with their city. Learn how you can do the same.


Code for AmericaApply for a Code for America Fellowship. CfA is now looking for a few good developers, designers, researchers and entrepreneurs who want to make a difference. Fellows get a living-wage stipend, travel expenses and healthcare for the year. Application deadline is June 26 and start date is January 2012.


HackTylerWhen all else fails, hack your city. Ahead of his upcoming move to Tyler, TX, Chicago Tribune news app developer Christopher Groskopf finds himself taking the code into his own hands. Read posts about his adventures at The Atlantic or learn how you can do the same at Hack Tyler.

Next time you’re complaining about what your government isn’t doing, do something about it.

Ask not what your city can do for you – ask what you can do for your city.

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh, co-founder/CEO of ProudCity and co-host of the podcast, The Government We Need. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at

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