Working for DemocracyLab

Hello again!

For the last several months I’ve been working at DemocracyLab, and I wanted to take some time to talk about it. I was just asked to write a one-sentence bio and answer ‘what drew you to DemocracyLab’ for the site, which made me step back for a moment and take stock of my time there so far … and of course, write far more than just one sentence!

In short: It’s been a very fulfilling time so far, and being able to help an existing product in the early stages really start to grow and present itself in a more and more refined and usable way is very satisfying.

A little history on the tech end, because it’s inevitable I’m going to talk about it: DemocracyLab was originally a WordPress/jQuery site and there are still pieces of that we’re bringing into the current site, which is a Django backend on top of a postgreSQL server, and the frontend is pretty much all React. I work in that most of the time though I’ve written some Python as well. The combination of a codebase I could start working in right away for a project I think has the potential to do some real good was too tempting to pass up. And so, I get to work in my area of expertise but also learn new things; Python and Django today, but who knows about tomorrow?

DemocracyLab’s mission is helping civic tech, or civic tech-for-good projects succeed. Not just nonprofits but any project of that type may need help from any number of volunteers with a wide range of skills – business planning, administrative skills, fundraising, developing, designing, and we try to help find ways to get volunteers from “I want to help,” to “I’ve found a project that speaks to me” to “I’m volunteering.” That speaks to me a lot – there’s a lot of friction in that process which is, from personal experience, more than there should be. I’ve worked in nonprofits previously and we all wanted to get the job done, but there were often a lot of skill gaps that were painful to close for one reason or another. DemocracyLab could serve to make that process a whole lot easier, and I’m glad to be contributing towards that future, if just a little.

React Maps

Everyone uses Google Maps, and lots of people use React. You’d think a Maps in React app would be easy, right? I did. And I was surprised that the answer seemed to be no. It’s not that there aren’t a lot of examples out there, it’s finding one that I could make work in my preferred environment and in ES2015. Continue reading React Maps

SeattleJS Meetup 10/2016

I went to the SeattleJS Monthly Meetup┬áin October- I’d never been to one of these before, but I have to say it was an excellent introduction. There were two very good talks about managing time – from using React to eliminate time as a way to bring the code you read and the state the user experiences closer together to using Moment.js to actually make sense out of date and time in Javascript. I’d normally make a time joke here, but it’s a little late for that.

Continue reading SeattleJS Meetup 10/2016