Fresh off off getting recognized as the 2011 GovFresh Awards ‘Citizen of the Year,’ we asked Gov 2.0 Radio host and founder and NationBuilder Chief Organizer Adriel Hampton to share more about his work and what drives him.
What efforts over the past year have you been involved with that you’re most proud of?
Gosh, there are a lot. I was really happy to work with my great SF City Attorney colleague Jen Drake on the SF version of the global “Let’s Do It!” movement with local cleanups and blight mapping as part of “Let’s Do It SF!.” Also with Jen, I helped create the “Local Lifesavers” project in SF, supporting the great “PulsePoint” emergency response app from the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District and organizing local basic emergency response trainings. CityCamp was a big part of my year, from the first camps in Oklahoma City and Raleigh to an SF unconference at the SF Department of Technology offices and a hackathon in December with Javier Muniz and the great folks at Granicus in SF supporting the work of local nonprofits and good government activists.
I was really happy about the continued success of Gov 2.0 Radio, aided tremendously this year by the addition of Sydney-based open government expert Allison Hornery as a co-host. I helped Karen Suhaka launch her new legislative data company Legination and its BillTrack50 product. I helped draft and organizing support for a new digital open records law that California Sen. Leland Yee has announced he will sponsor.
What drives you to do what you do?
Ha! Sometimes I wonder that myself. I guess I’m just really concerned that as individual citizens we need to be involved in “being the change.” I can be as cynical and full of fear about the future as anyone when I think about our economy and government, but I’ve decided that the best thing I can do with my energy is to fight for what I believe in – open, accountable and efficient government, a strong social safety net, and the advancement of democracy and human equality through technological innovation. And when I can’t have personal direct impact, I can certainly use my skills and networks to advance and promote the work of others.
There is a speech by novelist Haruki Murakami I first read this year that sums up a lot of how I feel:
“We are all human beings, individuals transcending nationality and race and religion, fragile eggs faced with a solid wall called the System. To all appearances, we have no hope of winning. The wall is too high, too strong — and too cold. If we have any hope of victory at all, it will have to come from our believing in the utter uniqueness and irreplaceability of our own and others’ souls and from the warmth we gain by joining souls together.”
What civic advice do you have for your fellow citizens?
It’s easier than you think to make a major difference. Organizing matters. Presence matters. Perseverance matters.