Civic Responsibility Hacks the White House

Freespacesmall-764x1024Burner Mike Zuckerman started the Temporary Autonomous Zone known as [freespace] in June this year, based on Burning Man’s Principles of Radical Inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical Self-Reliance, Radical Self-Expression, Communal Effort, Participation, Immediacy, and Civic Responsibility. Notice anything missing? Leave No Trace®, a registered trademark of the US Department of Agriculture, and a movement that in itself contains 7 Principles.

[freespace] wants to leave a trace. When they move their Temporary Autonomous Zone to other places, the building, the vacant lot next door, and the neighborhood around them will be in a better condition than when they arrived. MOOP in this case is art, gardens, opportunities, connections, inspiration. The trace [freespace] leaves might not be there forever, but as it lingers it still brings benefits even when [freespace] is gone – or is no longer free.

Can the Ten Principles apply in the Default World? That’s what the Burning Man Project was supposed to do. While they still ponder that question, in the meantime it took Zuck and the team from Reallocate just over 6 weeks to Get Shit Done in a big way. What did he do? Hacked the National Day of Civic Hacking. What did it lead to? Being summoned to the White House, and heralded as a “Champion of Change”.

Mission at 8thThe National Day of Civic Hacking was actually two days, June 1 and 2 (a weekend). 95 events took place in 83 cities across America, from Palo Alto (where 5,000 people showed up) to Maine to Kalamazoo. More than 11,000 citizens, 21 Federal Government agencies, 6 state agencies, and numerous towns and counties came together for what Nick Skytland of NASA called the largest mass collaboration in history. The value of the time volunteered to the community over a 48-hour period has been estimated at $11 million.

Hacking the hack itself, taking a day that went for 48 hours and turning into a project that continues to bring benefits to the community months later, got the attention of those at the very top. [freespace] are now collaborating with NASA, UNICEF and the government to look at where they can take this concept next, in America and around the world.

Out of 95 different civic hacking projects, [freespace] was one of only 2 the White House chose to highlight in their presentation. [freespace] is at 51:00. [freespace] has transformed the community, earning a letter of commendation from Mayor Ed Lee’s office and leaving a trace that transforms ugly into pretty.

Will we see the President at Burning Man next? We have Playa Force One ready for him…

Playa Force One - photo by Tomas Loewy

Playa Force One – photo by Tomas Loewy

3 comments on “Civic Responsibility Hacks the White House

  1. Pingback: Burning Man’s Gift Economy and its Effect on Mainstream Society | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. Pingback: Burners Collaborate to Bridge SF’s Homeless/Tech Divide | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  3. Pingback: farewell, [freespace]. - Monique Woodard | Monique Woodard

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