Get ready for a new take on accessing info on the workings of our city government.  This Saturday, the Open Oakland brigade will hold “ReWrite Oakland,” an all-day write-athon project in collaboration with the City of Oakland, Code for America, The Hub Oakland and PopUpHood.

ReWrite Oakland will result in the launch of a new website called “Oakland Answers” that will be citizen-focused and written in everyday language, making it simpler for people to find the City information and services they are looking for.

Steve Spiker, who is one of the organizers of the event, wrote on his blog, stevespikercom, “City information shouldn’t be a nightmare to find – we need you to help us make our city more open and accessible for all!”

This event is open to anyone in the community, regardless of their skills or technical expertise. City staff and community members will work together on answers to common civic questions, such as “When can I park  in yellow zones ?” or “How do I get a business license?”  Anyone can submit questions for posting on the new web site by going to the ReWrite Oakland section of  Participants will select the questions to write about during the first hour of the write-athon.

Nicole Neditch, who maintains the city’s web site, explained that city staff would be available mostly to assist community members who will have the primary responsibility for writing the content for the new web site.  “We will have several general experts from the city, rather than split it up based on specific categories.  For example, I know a little about a lot of topics, and I know where to find things on the [current] city web site.”  Neditch is the Online Engagement Manager at City of Oakland.

ReWrite Oakland Organizers: teve Spiker, Eddie Tejada, and Nicole Neditch.  Photos by Howard Dyckoff

ReWrite Oakland Organizers: Steve Spiker, Eddie Tejeda, and Nicole Neditch. Photos by Howard Dyckoff

All contributors will have IDs and profiles on the new Oakland Answers website.  Although photos can be taken at the write-athon, contibutors can also use profile pictures they have in digital form or from social media sites like Tumblr and Facebook.  Currently, over 90 people have signed up and another 20-30 participants can be accommodated

Unlike the previous Open Oakland hackathons, few sponsors have stepped forward and the food menu may be limited to coffee and  lunchtime sandwiches.  Interested  community members and potential sponsors can signup or contact the organizers through or the EventBrite registration link here:

ReWrite Oakland will be held on June 1st from 9:30 am to 4 pm, at the HUBOakland/Popuphood location, 1423 Broadway. It will be Oakland’s contribution as a part of the National Day of Civic Hacking (#ndoch).

Oakland Answers is being based on the application “Honolulu Answers,” a Code for America project in 2012 with the city government and community of Honolulu. Some of the developers of the Honolulu Answers application will be on hand to help out at Rewrite Oakland.


Sample entry for  Oakland Answers web site. All photos Howard Dyckoff.

Sample entry for Oakland Answers web site. All photos Howard Dyckoff.