Retrospecting 2022

Building community, civic hacking with my son, pedigree and public interest technology.

By Luke Fretwell · December 15, 2022


2022 was transformative for me.

This year, I’ve re-imagined what GovFresh could be and worked towards building that out (more on this in January).

I also changed the context of my work with ProudCity and eliminated (nearly) all of the noise surrounding the government technology market and just stayed focused on building a great business that helps local governments deliver great digital services.

Even before the change in Twitter ownership and, with the exception of LinkedIn, I’ve been intentional about avoiding distractions – especially social media trappings – and have just focused on doing the work.

The results of this will show up more in 2023, and I’m excited about what’s to come. I’m looking forward to learning and meeting new people doing amazing work that’s changing the way we think about democracy.

Pedigree and public interest technology

Based on many conversations, I wrote about pedigree and public interest technology, something I think will increasingly be a topic of discussion in 2023.

So much of the leadership and noise in public interest technology is based on academic background rather than true meritocracy.

Folks are hesitant to openly discuss this for fear of professional retribution, and it would help if more people with pedigree backgrounds openly acknowledged and worked towards changing the dynamic. I think folks who are tired of being slighted will begin to press for this conversation to happen.

RSS government

With social media’s reckoning, government must rethink its long-term communications strategy. My piece on RSS and government captures why it’s important for public sector institutions to default to an open standard and more of an interoperable approach to information sharing.

It’s important to leverage social media, including Medium, but we must also begin to think critically about and execute on a foundational strategy that is platform-agnostic and sustainable.

Proudly Serving

One of the civic projects I’m most proud of is Proudly Serving, a playbook to help local governments build people-centered digital public services.

What I love about this project is both working with my co-maintainers (Rebecca Woodbury, Marlena Medford, Kirsten Wyatt) and building it openly and collaboratively.

We have an amazing list of contributors, and I invite anyone to think about contributing. The central GitHub repository and project board gives insight into how we’re working.

My hope is that similar projects will grow from this when it’s complete, because I think it’s a framework for communities to build a resource openly and collaboratively, and a great way to exercise key muscles of democracy.

Civic hacking

One of the greatest joys of 2022 has been civic hacking with my son, Elias.

All of this is on display (in very much alpha) at USA.GovFresh. I’ve written some about it and will update more by year’s end, but it’s been amazing to build with him, watch him learn and, most importantly, learn from him.

Direct message

I started a new Q&A feature (Direct message) and got the chance to open up conversations to the general public with folks I think are doing amazing work, including Rebecca Woodbury, Victor Sauceda, Andrew Hening, Marlena Medford, Carla Briceno and Angie Quirarte.


Notable books I read in 2022 were Ro Khanna’s Dignity in a Digital Age and Citizens by Jon Alexander and Ariane Conrad. There are many others, especially as I listen to more audiobooks, but those two stand out.

Up next is Lori Garver’s Escaping Gravity, which I will start reading at the beginning of the new year.


The GovFresh Podcast will launch in 2023. This is a continuation and re-branding of The Government We Need, but it’ll be just me hosting.


I’ve started a GovFresh community with a small group of amazing people. Honestly, it’s one of the most fulfilling moments of my days, and I’m grateful for the folks who’ve joined. I’m particularly grateful for Mary, Shira, Marlena, Kirsten, Art, Rebecca and Lenae for being especially engaged.

It’s currently invite only, and if you would like to join, send an email to with ‘GovFresh community’ in the subject.


The work we’re doing is important. Sometimes it’s extremely hard and thankless. Remember to take time for yourself, whether it’s an hour walk, a reset day, the week, month, whatever. But also make sure to show gratitude to others for the work they’re doing. We don’t have to be constantly in motion or distressed.

If we’re not grounded and present, then it will show up inherently – and quietly – in the work.

The context for civic technology should be joy – for those doing the work and those receiving the services we build.


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