A Day As a Yeti

This week, the first major snowstorm of the year hit the NorthEast.

I live in the incredible city of New Haven, CT (where the SeeClickFix HQ is based). Throughout this past Tuesday, I usedSeeClickFixandSnowcrew.orgto find, and help folks who needed help with shoveling.

Thanks to Snowcrew.org, yesterday was an extremely rewarding experience.Here's a bit about why:

Tuesday morning, I woke up at 6:30am to many inches of snow covering New Haven.

The first thing I did was check Snowcrew.org. The night before, I had already seen requests made through Snowcrew and SeeClickFix for shoveling help on Wednesday (after the storm was said to subside). It looked like the worst of the storm had ended earlier than predicted. Fortunately, Snowcrew and SeeClickFix were built to be nimble; through reading comment-threads I was able to see which folks needed a hand immediately.


First, I headed out to the Dwight neighborhood to respond to a "Citizen Call" request that had been posted. There, Toni and I shoveled out her driveway so her family could get to work.

After cleaning Toni's driveway, I met O'Neill and his mother who were shoveling a couple doors down. We finished up their sidewalk, and then began on their next door neighbors houses. "We always shovel for them," O'Neill said, "They salt for us, so we like to repay them by shoveling."

As O'Neill's mother took a break on their neighbor's front porch, she asked me, "Guess how old I am?" Then, she said, "I'm 72 years old. And I'm out here. That's what being a neighbor is about."

After receiving generous offers of tea and then saying goodbye, I received a call from Karen King of Yale's Office of New Haven & State Affairs. I had emailed Karen the day before, asking about whether the University had a few shovels to spare. With the impending storm, shovels had become New Haven's hottest commodity. Although I had a couple shovels of my own, many of my friends who were eager to volunteer to shovel couldn't because they did not have access to one.

Karen called to inform me that Yale Operations was going to drop off** 6 shovels** for me and my crew wherever was most convenient for me to pick them up. What a tremendous, unexpected, and generous gift from Karen and the University!

After picking up the shovels, I gathered a small crew of four Yale students/alums who were eager to utilize the news shovels. As we ventured back into Dwight neighborhood, however, there wasn't much left to do! We walked easily along the cleanly shoveled sidewalks of Elm St. and watched as some neighbors helped each other finish up some final salting.

Tuesday's storm taught me about the power of having an organized, communicative city government during times of need. The City of New Haven was swift and open in their communications with residents ' using twitter to promote reporting issues on New Haven Connect (powered by SeeClickFix) and SeeClickFix city notifications to notify folks about parking bans.

The storm also taught me about the power of having an organized, communicativecitizen body. Through SeeClickFix and Snowcrew.org, there was an outpouring of volunteers who were prepared to help those who were snowed-in. We had over 500 folks sign-up to be yetis on Snowcrew.org Tuesday. Neighbors helped those next door by salting and shoveling. Gifts or encouragement were exchanged through hot chocolate offers, free shovels, and words of gratitude.

It was a day where the city, university, and citizen base utilized tools and technology to make it through a storm together. I can't say we'reexcitedfor more storms to come this winter, but I can say that, with Snowcrew.org, we'reready.

Read a press release about Snowcrew.org in theBoston Globe.
And one in theNew Haven Register.
And in theNew Haven Independent.

Are you a Yeti? Post a selfie of you shoveling with #yetiselfie and win a free Snowcrew t-shirt! (You can also purchase a teehere.)
Not a Yeti yet? Sign-up forSnowcrew.org!