Subscribe to the GovFresh newsletter

A few weeks ago, we added an email subscription option, and the sign-up rate has been incredible.

So, starting next week, every Thursday, we’ll send out a simple GovFresh newsletter that includes the following:

  • Latest GovFresh posts
  • Links to other items we find interesting

I’d love feedback anyone has on what would be of interest and/or newsletter examples that are particularly compelling. Please send your ideas to me at

Subscribe here.

What’s your 2012 civic commitment?

A recent Seth Godin blog post resonates with me and reflects how I’ve always approached GovFresh and will continue to do in 2012.

Until you quiet the resistance and commit to actually shipping things that matter, all the productivity tips in the world aren’t going to make a real difference. And, it turns out, once you do make the commitment, the productivity tips aren’t that needed.

You don’t need a new plan for next year. You need a commitment.

In 2012, I’m committing GovFresh to helping change the way government works. That may be too simplistic or idealistic for some, but it works for me.

More specifically, I’ll focus on helping drastically lower the cost, de-mystify the technology and build better Websites for local government agencies and officials (more on that soon). This will be an open source community effort, so please connect with me if you’re interested.

For two reasons, I’m genuinely interested in what specific civic commitment(s) you’re making in 2012:

  • I want to follow up to make sure you’re doing it.
  • I want to make sure GovFresh is helping as much as it can.

Email me (luke@govfresh) or share yours in the comments.

So, what’s your 2012 civic commitment?

Happy birthday: GovFresh turns 2

Today is GovFresh’s second birthday, and I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone and take stock of all that we’ve been part of since its inception.

Code for America founder Jen Pahlka and I had coffee a few days ago, and I left realizing I’ve never itemized the work that’s been done via GovFresh which, for my own sanity and inspiration, I’d like to do now.

All of what we’ve been part of has involved people who care and have great passion for improving our civic culture. Every day I get to talk and meet with great people doing great work, and it inspires me to work harder to try keeping up.

‘Good government’ isn’t good enough to them. These people going for great.

With the help of many, here’s what I’m proud to have been part of over the past 2 years:

  1. Founding/supporting the first major metropolitan open government mayoral forum SFOpen 2011 (with Brian Purchia).
  2. Founding/supporting monthly San Francisco civic tech meet-up Third Thursdays SF (with Adriel Hampton).
  3. Launched gov20.govfresh powered by Alex Howard, one of the best government technology journalists in the field.
  4. Designed CityCamp brand and WordPress theme (.zip) and worked with founder Kevin Curry to make CityCamp an open source brand.
  5. Serve as Web host for CityCamp, CityCamp San Francisco, CityCamp London, CityCamp Colorado, CityCamp Edmonton and Third Thursdays SF.
  6. Helped makeover the City of DeLeon, TX.
  7. manor.govfresh (with Dustin Haisler)
  8. sf.govfresh (with Adobe Government)
  9. Founded Gov 2.0 Hero Day.
  10. Created free government WordPress theme.
  11. Helped the City of Manor, TX, launch its first open source Website.
  12. Logo/branding and/or Web design for CityCamp, Gov 2.0 Radio, OpenGov West, GovTwit.

Including starting GovFresh, many of the stories I have about the above involved little deliberation and planning. I’ve always felt it’s important to just do something and go into non-stop iteration mode.

While I don’t have much free time, I’m always open to working with people to help grow what I feel is an important cause. Please feel free to reach out to me with questions, ideas, sponsorship dollars and coffee and iTunes gift cards and free babysitting.

Thank you and happy birthday!

The scoop on GovFresh

Since May 1, 2009, I’ve dedicated a great deal of time and energy to GovFresh to the point it’s become a passion that has consumed me. I’ve managed to find meaning in work that matters to me.

After the euphoria of manor.govfresh, the citizen in me became even more excited about changing the way government works, but before jumping back into the thick of things, the entrepreneur in me needed to find a more sustainable way to build on GovFresh’s organic growth and momentum.

I’ve talked with many of you over the past 6 weeks about how best to pursue my civic passions and make GovFresh sustainable while maintaining its independent spirit. It’s been a challenge operating in a vacuum, especially when you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and you’re focused on an industry based 3,000 miles away in Washington, DC.

Since GovFresh’s inception, Goldy Kamali of FedScoop and I have collaborated behind the scenes on ideas while exploring opportunities on how to work together. Since September 2009, we’ve talked about working together when she came to San Francisco, and we spent the day talking through options. Goldy and I have strengths that complement one another and have always gelled on the evolution of new media and government.

Beginning immediately, I’ll work with Goldy and the FedScoop team on leading editorial and creative areas for FedScoop. I’ll focus on federal government themes such as cloud computing, cybersecurity, open government and other tech-related areas. This is new territory for FedScoop and myself, so it’ll be an evolutionary process.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet with the FedScoop team and, to quote Goldy herself, I think her and the FedScoop team are ‘fabu.’

What all of this means for GovFresh is that I’ll have more time to focus on my civic passions: open government, open data, open source and innovation at the municipal level. GovFresh will continue to address issues it has in the past, but do so at a more moderate pace. Just as I did with sf.govfresh and manor.govfresh, Goldy and I have discussed exciting event ideas we’ll share with you in the future.

If you want to connect with me directly, have story ideas for FedScoop or GovFresh, want to guest-blog for either or both, please contact me at You can also follow FedScoop on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks to all of you for working with me, sharing ideas, helping navigate best options, wanting to see GovFresh grow and genuinely caring about the future of GovFresh and what I personally pursue.

The end of a GovFresh era

This will sound crazy coming off the heels of one of the best professional experiences I’ve had in my entire life (see manor.govfresh), but it’s time for me to change gears as far as GovFresh is concerned.

For the past 15 months, this has been a civic adventure driven by pure patriotic adrenaline. It has been an amazing learning experience, and I have met the most incredible, passionate, patriotic group of people I’m proud to now call friends.

Over the past few months, I’ve tried to work on establishing a sustainable business model, but the challenge around building an immediate solid foundation has turned into a case of ‘too little, too late.’

I’ll have more information about what will happen to GovFresh once I have a little more time, but just wanted to relay this as soon I reasonably could. For now, I must step away and seek professional opportunities more focused and sustainable (contact me at if you have ideas).

Thank you to everyone who’s believed in what we’ve done with GovFresh. This has been as much yours as it’s been mine.

Innovation for local government

Join a fast-paced conversation about innovation in local government and emergency management with GovFresh founder Luke Fretwell, City of Manor, TX, CIO Dustin Haisler and Bob Greenberg of G&H International Services. We discuss the upcoming manor.govfresh conference, and how emerging technologies are empowering first responders.


My Gov 2.0 Hero: Luke Fretwell

Luke FretwellOne of the first people that came to mind as a Gov 2.0 Hero doesn’t even work for the government.

With this said, this individual has had a profound impact on government through his immense drive and passion to make the government a better place. Luke Fretwell is the creator of GovFresh, which has become a very important resource for agencies and citizens interested in how technology is reshaping government of all levels. Luke recognizes individuals making their mark in government as Gov 2.0 Heroes, but I think it’s time that his efforts get recognized. Luke, thank you for being a real Gov 2.0 Hero, and inspiring me to press forward no matter how difficult the challenge may be.

GovFresh at 1: Thank you

GovFresh launched a year ago May 1. That first weekend, GovTwit’s Steve Lunceford tweeted it, Sunlight’s Ellen Miller blogged it and Gov 2.0 Radio talked it. I didn’t know anything about open government, how government was using technology and social media or any of the people involved. I had no idea GovFresh would evolve into anything more than aggregated government social media feeds.

Since that day, my faith that the common citizen can play a part in building a better government has been renewed beyond my wildest imagination. Not because I’ve done anything important, but because every single day for the past year I’ve witnessed it in action.

I don’t work for the government and never have. Although I grew up right outside and worked inside the Beltway before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area 10 years ago, home to me is literally on the opposite end of the country. The idea that one citizen 3,000 miles away from our nation’s capital can connect with with the greatest minds in government with simply a laptop, Internet connection and civic passion speaks volumes to where we’re headed.

When people ask me what GovFresh is, I generally explain it in literal terms. It’s a news/blog site about technology and social media in government and open government. Clay Johnson called it the TechCrunch of Gov 2.0 (thank you again, Clay).

To me, GovFresh is also more than that.

It’s a civics project that inspires me to engage. It’s connected me with the democratic process in a new way and introduced me to the smartest people in government, from Washington, DC, to the City of Manor, TX, to everyone in between.

I could wax poetic about what’s happened at GovFresh over the past year and get introspective about open government and Gov 2.0, but I’ll spare the soliloquy and leave you with this:

GovFresh has introduced me to some great friends and wonderful people, and I have you to thank for that.

P.S. Here’s a quick GovFresh Year 1 interview on Gov 2.0 Radio: