CityCampSAV: City Budget and Beyond Unconference

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Savannah Civic Center

301 West Oglethorpe Avenue

Savannah, GA 31401

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This flagship one-day only event – brought to you by OpenSavannah and City of Savannah Government – marks a radical new attempt at including all residents in Coastal Ga. policy-making and, specifically, in helping City leaders determine 2019 city budget priorities and focus areas.

Organized by and for resident volunteers of OpenSavannah working in equal collaboration with public servants, CityCamp aims to bring together civic leaders, concerned citizens, elected officials, journalists, nonprofits, business leaders, youth, everyday residents, and all of Savannah's collective action for a day of solutions-building to answer the underlying question: "What do we want to create together for the future of our city?"

Learn. Listen. Let your voice be heard.

During the first half of the day, attendees will learn the ins and outs of all that goes into crafting the annual municipal budget from Melissa Carter, Director of the Office of Budget Management for the City of Savannah. A panel discussion of local activisits and changemakers entitled "Change Only Happens When Ordinary People Get Involved" will also take place.

It's your city. You set the agenda.

Residents will then set the agenda for the remainder of the day, with a call for lightning talks open to anyone followed by breakout sessions on topics submitted by participants. Talks will be moderated by respected community intermediaries and fact-checkers from local media organizations. While the general theme for the afternoon talks should revolve around the city's budget priorities, budget matters ideally will act as a lens for what the city's collective priorities should be more broadly for the future.

You weigh in with your Savannah budget proposal.


The day will conclude with an interactive budget-balancing act in which attendees will weigh in digitally as to how they would fund city services – and what they would fund – without letting expenses surpass revenues. Then the event closing speech will kick off a 3-week public feedback period where residents who couldn't attend will have the opportunity weigh in via SMS or mobile as to how they would allocate the budget.

Take part in the first of hopefully many more inclusive, participatory, resident-driven public feedback mechanisms. Take part in a day where residents and city servants get a chance actually to talk. Join us, won't you?


Who's covering the cost of CityCampSavannah?

OpenSavannah, an all-volunteer civic organization dedicated to making local government work in the 21st century, especially for those who need it the most, is hosting CityCamp as its seminal fall civic engagement event. While in-kind use of Savannah Civic Center and a small amount of grant money is being provided by the City of Savannah Government, CityCamp is entirely autonomous from the City itself, and seeks to establish itself as a neutral, safe-space for city and citizens to have productive dialogue focused on the future of Savannah.

Who's setting the rules for CityCamp?

Under the advisoryship of project lead Terri-Thornton Davis and Brigade Captain Carl V. Lewis, a steering committee composed of residents and public servants is currently being recruited to oversee the event and ensuing public feedback period is equitable, civil, productive dialogue. We aim to make CityCamp different from most public feedback type events. It won't be just another gripe fest with public servants and residents yelling at one another.

Who's facilitating CityCamp?

Coco Papy, Community Director of The Creative Coast, will be serving as the chief moderator for the event. In addition to serving on OpenSavannah's advisory board, Papy has facilitated large-group meetings in a variety of capacities in her years as a community organizer and political activist, with an eye toward keeping discussion focused, productive and civil. In keeping with OpenSavannah's core values, Papy deploys a number of strategies to ensure that discusssion is equitable and representative of all concerns, and not just a podium for those who yell the loudest.

How is this any different from previous 'public forums' in Savannah?

CityCamp is being organized by, for, and with everyday residents. It's not a top-down initiative or last-minute-announced forum held merely to satisfy state requirements for public participation in budget proposals. It's not just performative in nature. While we can't ensure that all budgeting priorities residents bring to the table will be included in the 2019 budget, we will ensure that all voices get heard. In addition, we will post all results from in-person feedback, from the web app, and from text-message surveys online in an accessible format for residents and leaders alike to draw insights from.

I've lived in Savannah almost my whole life, and have been through the whole 'public input' game more than once; residents were only consulted in a perfunctory manner after decisions had already been made. Why should I bother coming to this event?

As mentioned above, OpenSavannah, an open civic organization composed of volunteer residents, is carrying out the entire event and ensuing public feedback process. We're a fairly new group, but we believe that local government can work in the 21st century, and that together we can overcome our most pressing issues if we fundamentally reinvent the way municipal government operates in the digital era.

We're advocates of open government, open data, open source, and open cities. We believe in bottom-up, asset-based community development, and hold dearly the premise that "government by the people, for the people, of the people" means all people. This project, in other words, will be different because you will be listened to.

How do I sign up to be on the Steering Committee for CityCamp?

To join the Steering Committee, fill out the application form no later than Oct. 9, 2018 at 5 p.m. EST.

How might my community organization, neighborhood association, or nonprofit volunteer to partner with OpenSavannah for this event?

We need everyone at the table for CityCamp for it to be a success. If you represent a community organization, neighborhood association or any nonprofit group working in the City of Savannah, including clubs and faith-based institutions, we invite your organization to co-host CityCamp with us. By co-hosting, we'll include your logo or group name in the event guide, on the event website, and indicate your affiliation on all members' namebadges. In addition, we'll ask your input as we decide on the specifics in the days leading up to the event. In return, all we ask is that you participate and, if you like, offer up your hands and volunteer to help out in running CityCamp.

OpenSavannah believes strongly that government "by the people, for the people, of the people" means all people. If your organization wants to partner with OpenSavannah for CityCamp, email Terri Thornton Davis at

Who'll be attending from The City of Savannah?

A broad cross-sector of Savannah's 2,468 full time employees will be represented at the event, with representatives from all City service departments on hand to answer questions and clarify any points of fact. In addition, City Council, Mayor Eddie DeLoach, and the entire Budget Management Office will be present. That said, aside from Melissa Carter of the Office of Management and Budget, who will deliver a morning talk on the budget, no city officials will be treated any differently than other attendees. At CityCamp, we acknowledge that we are all Savannah residents, and that we all have equal voices in determining our city's future.

How can my business help sponsor CityCamp?

We will need every bit of in-kind and financial support we can find from the business community to make this event work. If you think you might be able to provide in-kind donations for CityCamp or if your business wishes to becoe one of our headlining sponsors, see our Sponsorship Prospectus for more information.

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?

Parking will be available for all attendees commuting by car. If traveling via public transportation, you may catch either the purple (#14) line CAT bus or the red (#25) bus to drop you off at the Montgomery and MLK stop, right next to Savannah Civic Center. You may also catch the free Purple CAT Trolley from anywhere in the Landmark District.

Why are you asking me to disclose my racial identity and gender?

CityCamp is a space for all Savannah residents. We're asking our participants for some identifying data to know what areas of our community we've succeeded at connecting with and which areas need additional outreach from us to make them feel welcome at CityCamp.

What do I need to bring to enter the event?

The only thing you need to bring is yourself! You can bring your laptop or tablet to the event, but all needed supplies will be provided.

Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?

Absolutely not! All ages are invited to attend, especially adolescents! The only caveat, however, is that we will unfortunately not be able to provide childcare services on site, as it is a liability to do so on City-owned property.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Please direct any and all queries, concerns, suggestions, or feedback to Sending an email to this address will ensure it reaches all members of the steering committee. If your feedback is more sensitive in nature or concerns a violation of the OpenSavannah Code of Conduct, you should alternatively direct it to OpenSavannah Founder/Brigade Captain Carl V. Lewis by emailing or to OpenSavannah Communications Lead Caila Brown at

CityCampSAV: Demystify the City Budget


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Savannah Civic Center

301 West Oglethorpe Avenue

Savannah, GA 31401

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