Spring 2020– Workshop #2: Chi Hack Night Visit

At last week’s meeting, City Open Workshop made a visit to Chi Hack Night, a non-profit organization that focuses its public events around the topic of city improvement. Chi Hack Night events typically include food, public announcements, presentations, and breakout groups divided into learning and prototyping workshops. This organization is very passionate about diversity and inclusion, and the code of conduct is emphasized at every meeting. As Chi Hack Night was one of the inspirations for the creation of City Open Workshop, we thought it best to pay respect and pay them a small visit.

Cass Madison from Talent Tech Project presenting the work of the organization.

This Chi Hack Night, Cass Madison from the Tech Talent Project came in to talk about the work she does with the organization, and the importance behind her work. Cass, while focusing most of her career working in government, noticed that over the years of extreme growth spurts in technology, there has not been a large increase in the number of technical experts working in the federal government to match. The lack of tech savvy experts, therefore, holds back significant technological improvements on a federal level in government programs.

The problems Madison noticed within federal positions led to the start of the Tech Talent Project, a recruiting team aiming to increase the amount of technical experts employed by federal government agencies. Madison and her group of recruiters take applications from qualifying applicants from all over the country. This is not only an effort to increase tech experts on the federal level, but in the state and local levels as well. Those who apply for positions in the federal government and end up not receiving any offers also get referred to similar positions with the city or the state.

Photo: Steven Vance from City Open Workshop during the Chi Hack Night breakout sessions on ADUs.

The breakout sessions of the Chi Hack Night is what gives an individual the opportunity to explore their interests, and decide whether they’d simply like to learn or be a little hands about given topics. During this particular learning vs. prototyping session, we had one of City Open Workshop’s very own, Steven Vance, discuss Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). During this discussion, Steven spoke about the current legal status of ADUs in Chicago, the zoning codes currently preventing ADUs from being built, and the actions to take as members of the community to push the legislation of ADUs to local alderpeople (it's now easy to write a letter to them). It was a great opportunity for City Open Workshop to present a spotlight on the focus of the last season.

Photo: Transit Talk is another breakout group which is developing a service that "empowers users to easily submit issue reports for things like cleanliness, accessibility, and delays on public transit, generating real-time, crowdsourced knowledge about a transit system".

Attending Chi Hack Night events is a great way to become involved in many civic discussions and organizations around the city. It is also an excellent place to meet people who have a mutual passion for improving the city’s functionality. There is a diversity of those who are heavily involved: from architects and data analysts, to community organizers and volunteers. Everybody who has a drive to make the city a better place can feel a sense of community at these events.

Chi Hack Night hosts their events each Tuesday, 6 pm at the Braintree office on 222 W Merchandise Mart. For further details about future events and how to become a member please visit https://chihacknight.org/.

Cat Montiel is an alumna of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a BA in Urban and Regional Planning. She is currently an insurance producer selling home and auto insurance for State Farm.

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