Last week, we held our first ever User Conference -- the GovLove Summit -- at the SeeClickFix HQ in New Haven, CT. And it lived up to its name: We GovLove our partners!
Since this was our pilot conference, we weren't exactly sure what to expect: How many folks would want to come from all over the country to our office? What topics will they be most interested in covering? What toppings should we order on the pizza?
And, most importantly, how could we create a space where both our SeeClickFix team and partners could listen and be heard? Could learn from each other and connect about not only how to best use SeeClickFix, but more broadly on how to increase citizen engagement and improve work flow?
We had 13 partners from across the map come: from Gainesville, FL to Missouri City, TX to right at home in New Haven, CT. With our entire SeeCickFix crew in attendance, the group filled our "Boom Room" (our largest office space where SeeClickFix team members play music, play ping pong, and deliver presentations).
After breakfast and an office tour, the first day was kicked-off with our keynote speaker, David Eaves, who gave a fascinating talk on "Open Data Values & Strategies". He had our partners laughing, scribbling furiously down notes, and, literally, arm-wrestling.
After, the SeeClickFix team took the stage and packed the rest of the day with workshops, ranging from "SeeClickFix for Call Centers" to "Communication with Residents" to "Insight: What's your data telling you?". In between sessions, we had "SeeClickFix Trivia" with bonus prizes, a "Partner Challenge", and lunch and snack breaks.
Mid-day after a delicious lunch from local eatery Nica's, we took most of our partners on a mini-walking tour of the New Haven Green to walk it off and stretch our legs. One SeeClickFix team member, Larry even demoed his E-Bike (electric road bike)!
On Day Two of the GovLove Summit, although we were all comfortably full from both the ideas from the workshops the day before and the pizza we ate at local pizzeria BAR the previous night -- we were still hungry for more.
Day Two was an UNconference: an intentionally unplanned day that was solely partner-driven. We wanted to hear what our partners wanted to learn about -- to give space to throw things at a wall and see what sticks. Literally. First thing in the morning, we had our partners and team write down topics and tape them to the "Boom Room" wall.
After settling on and grouping topics, our partners assigned themselves workshops to lead. There workshops led by our partners were some of the most rewarding parts of the entire conference. Our partners are the pros; they know intimately the ins and outs of what works and what doesn't work in local government. It was tremendous to watch them take the reins of the conference -- teaching and learning from each other. Members of the SeeClickFix team sat in on every single workshop -- garnering numerous valuable insights.
Day Two also included a historical walking tour of the Wooster-Square neighborhood given by SeeClickFix CEO, Ben Berkowitz, and Doug Hausladen, the New Haven Department of Transportation Chief and long-time SeeClickFix-user. The tour was filled with stops where an issue reported on SeeClickFix had significantly impacted that part of the neighborhood.
What with walks, tours, and idea-sharing, by the end of Day Two, folks were ready for a final feast and toast at local restaurant Cask -- and then, hitting the sack.
What a conference, right? After, the SeeClickFix team felt that sweet spot of both exhausted and rejuvenated! We had compiled pages of notes, took many pictures, and eaten a lot of food. And, most importantly, we felt even more connected with our partners. It felt fantastic to hear their feedback on the conference as well -- making us already thrilled for a potential next year.
We'd like to give a huge, warm shoutout and hug to our partners that attended: for their thoughtfulness, engagement, and insights. Although technology affords us the ability to talk from far away, it was incredible to meet y'all in person and thank you for your dedication to your communities.
We GovLove y'all!