Sign that reads “Next in line for confession”
Sign that reads “Next in line for confession”
Photo by Shalone Cason on Unsplash

The Realities of Innovation in Cities

People might envision that I spend most of my time behind a computer. Typing, designing cute memes, and e-chatting with legions of Oaklanders.

First of all, I don’t make memes professionally. Second, the reality is that my job is more grounded in listening to others, managing a team, and prioritizing the strategy and direction of our digital products. I realized about a week into my job that my position was going to be less about creating new widgets and fancy apps and more about operational substance. …


“Liberation is a praxis, the action, and reflection of (people) upon their world to transform it.”Paulo Freire

In the first half of the 20th century, educators and theorists like Paulo Freire, John Dewey, Myles Horton, and Antoni Gramsci were credited for birthing popular education. This is a ‘dialectic’ approach to learning that is driven by empowering people through real examples and collectively solve problems. The power distinctions between teachers and students are blurred. Instead, everyone with a common goal teaches, and everyone learns. As my colleague mentioned to me, these philosophies “give us a world view to act upon and critique and validates why I must leave my desk.”

A cornerstone of popular education is participatory or…


Written for fellow bureaucrats, but widely applicable for office dwellers everywhere.

The New York Times recently proclaimed the end of ‘friendly’ generational relations. The outlet may have missed the last decade of articles on Millenials, including Time’sThe Me Me Me Generation.” More recently, a slew of articles details the myriad of ways millennials are screwed and how they’re even on track to die faster.

Those born between 1982 and 2004 are purportedly short-lived narcissists and industry killers. This caused the resulting resentment to surface in social media and the workplace. …


My Advice to Civic Techies Hoping to Work with Government

Originally published on the ELGL blog about my adventures as an entrepreneurial bureaucrat.

Real-World Bureaucrat: Yes. We’re that excited to see you.

You are an entrepreneur. You have relentless enthusiasm for your technology solution that will fix the government. You’ve probably spent dozens of hours creating an amazing presentation, crafting beautiful code, and perfecting your elevator pitch.

I empathize. I, too, want to fix things.

Recently, I was invited to speak at a conference about my experiences with civic techies like yourself. As a bureaucrat, I like to meet cool people like you.

However, I have to admit, our encounters are often awkward, fleeting, and often less than meaningful


The Oakland community hella loves Oakland. Community members have a robust presence at council meetings, town halls, and community events. However, who often goes unnoticed are the more than an average of 2,800 virtual visitors who engage with our City every day. That’s more than 1,000,000 interactions a year.

That’s changed with the new Analytics Dashboard we launched. As the first government partner for Code for America’s website analytics dashboard, I’m excited to announce that the dashboard is now officially in nationwide beta (try it here). Anyone with a government website and a Google Analytics account can set up the…

Mai-Ling Garcia

Head of Digital Strategy & Engagement | Work @Sfgov | Live in @Oakland | Crave witty conversation, ice cream, and better government.

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