PPF Blog

OpenPlans Paved the Way; Shareabouts Moves Forward

Last month, the team at OpenPlans in NYC announced organizational changes for 2015 – they’ll be cycling down core operations, handing off projects to good homes and keeping Shareabouts mapping tool moving forward.

For the past two and a half years (!), my PPF colleague Maryam and I have had the outstanding fortune to be able to work from desk space in the OpenPlans office, on the border of SoHo & Chinatown in Manhattan.

The generosity of OpenPlans with not only their space but also their NYC network of government contacts is one of the most remarkable professional kindnesses of my career, in my last ten years of working on non-profits. OpenPlans helped us launch AskThem (which went public in Feb. 2014) out of their office and facilitated our traction with the NYC Council. Done out of a community-spirited generosity and trust.

OpenPlans has always been a mainstay of the NYC civic tech scene – super solid tech tools, and community outreach done well and diligently and in human concern, ideas that have recently come to the fore but were certainly practiced by their team for years & years. Though our non-profit comes more from open-government and their team from transit & community planning, they helped so much with introductions and ongoing networking events from their awesome roof deck (which hopefully you had a chance to visit). Big thanks to everyone, including Ellen McDermott, co-director for years, now w/ Transportation Alternatives; Aaron Ogle, now Dir. Civic Tech w/ Philly city gov’t, how cool is that; the one & only Mjumbe Poe, who also originally wrote Councilmatic! As a CFA Fellow; and Andy Cochran, skilled developers all; other team members from the past, I see you guys. Thank you most of all to Frank Hebbert, their co-director who was my primary sounding board for advice and sound context. Each & all of their next steps will be assuredly amazing, and Mjumbe will keep Shareabouts humming, I understand.

Before that, OpenPlans incubated the awesome & legendary Civic Commons team – such necessary open-source infrastructure & best-practice sharing. Hey, Nick Grossman, McAndrew, some dude named Phil Ashlock – how about that, how about that OpenPlans penthouse. It’s also been outstanding to get the wisdom of the Reinvent Albany team, based in the same location, a vigorous non-profit for reform that is pioneering work in state (as well as city) government transparency & open-data. Same for Ben Fried and the hustling reporters behind Streetsblog NYC, who know what’s really going on in the city and fill an invaluable niche.

I’ll add more links & images to this post tmw but as a popular recent example, check their Shareabouts map for participatory budgeting in NYC – so solid, zoom in and see the ideas. I’ve got to run now but send Frank a note of thanks for the team. See you tmw, folks, and thank you.

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