Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Leaving TOPP

After three and a half years at The Open Planning Project, my time there is done.

For a while TOPP has been trying to find itself, to determine what it is that it can do best, and how to do that. I think TOPP has finally started really figuring that out, focusing on civic participation, revisiting “planning”, and though it’s not fully developed there seems to be a strong potential for TOPP to serve as a point of collaboration for other more ad hoc open source government efforts: government workers and volunteers can provide substantial and well-informed development efforts, but the long-term shepherding of a project is difficult, and TOPP has the potential to provide that kind of long-term neutral guidance. At the same time, communities of people have been developing around these issues; people have gotten past simply calling for government to be inclusive or transparent and have started to do the real work of making that happen.

But… unfortunately I won’t be able to figure out their next steps with them. Mark Gorton has been very generous in his support of TOPP, and helped us get started. But while he has been patient, and even at times seemingly immune from the economic trends… well, he’s not immune, and he has had to cut back his support for TOPP before we were able to become self-sufficient. And so there have been layoffs, myself among them.

I suspect what I’ll do next will have a very different focus. This feels a bit weird, a kind of lost identity. Overall I’m feeling pretty optimistic about finding something new and interesting to do, but I’m still a bit melancholy about leaving things behind. That TOPP and the people I’ve worked with are far away in New York makes it feel like more of a loss because I don’t know when I’ll be back next. But onward and upward! Now to find out what is next…

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This is the personal site of Ian Bicking. The opinions expressed here are my own.