Progressive Hack Night is a free event in New York to build an intersection of activism and technology.

We are a group of creatives, activists, and technologists who want to make a more progressive, equitable society.

What happens at a hack night?

Progressive Hack Night in NYC starts every other Wednesday at 6pm. We meet at ThoughtWorks on the 15th floor of 99 Madison Ave in Mid Town NYC. The event is free, and the invitation is open to anyone, especially folks who aren’t programmers.

Here's what happens at the Progressive Hack Night:

6:30pm – Socializing and food

We meet at the work spaces in ThoughtWorks NYC. There's directions on the walls and boards for you to follow.

Food is very important for Progressive Hack Night. Because we’re meeting during the dinner hour, food is always provided, usually pizza or empanadas. We want to make sure people are happy and fed, and eating together is a great way to break the ice and bond with other attendees..

6:50pm – Welcome and introductions

We get started around 6:50pm with a brief welcome and introduction to the event and then kick off the introductions.

Everyone in the room introduces themselves and tells the group why they’re here.

Folks at the 2nd Prog Hack Night
Folks at the 2nd Prog Hack Night

7:00pm - Announcements & Self-reflection

Next, we hold an open floor for announcements for progressive, civic tech, and open government related things. This could be plugging other events, mentioning newsworthy articles and more recently, job announcements in the government and civic tech space.

7:10pm – Presentation with Q&A

Just about every week, we have a feature presentation that lasts about 15 minutes, with an open question & answer (Q&A) session after.

Presenters can be any government agency, non-profit, company or group who’ve made use of open government data or built a civic technology application. Anyone can propose a talk, and I often reach out to presenters who would be a good fit. For every speaker, we provide some clear speaker guidelines.

7:30pm – 9:30pm - “And now for the hacking portion of the evening”

Once the presentation wraps up, the format of the event switches up to what Derek Eder describe as a mini-hackathon. People are invited to break off into groups and work on projects.

Breakout groups that last more than a few weeks are listed on the progressivehacknight.org website, and are divided into two tracks: learning groups and working groups.

  • Discussion Groups - Discussion groups are for new folks, those who want to learn technology skills, discuss issues, or refine their civic app ideas.

  • Working Groups - Topic-specific working groups led by facilitators to guide conversations, answer questions, and build teams for civic apps.

When 9:30pm rolls around, we all head home and do it all over again next week.

Everyone is welcome!

Not a techie? That's ok! We encourage non-technical folks to pair up and learn from our community's designers and developers. We've seen time and time again, the best civic projects come from teams with a diverse background.

Remember, there's much more to making a great app than just coding.

The Hack Night Model

Hack nights anchor and grow volunteer civic hacking communities while avoiding 'hackathon fatigue'. To learn how to organize one in your city, see the Code for America blog.