Inspiration

In the age of the internet, knowledge is everywhere, yet sometimes this informational overhaul makes it harder, not easier, to actually get to what you're looking for. Jenna and Catherine have both experienced first-hand how difficult it is to find accurate, timely information about protests, bills, and other local activist and political endeavors. Thus, their goal is to make civic engagement as accessible as possible.

What it does

Find Change, Make Change compiles diverse political resources into one simple interface. From a searchable activist calendar to senators' contact information and a news fact-checker, the application is a one-stop shop for people at any stage of their journey towards civic engagement, whether they are just stepping into the political world or they are a politician themselves.

How we built it

Find Change, Make Change is a Node.js/Express.js web application, with front-end code written in Pug and CSS. Javascript was used to make and then connect to a mysql database to query information about senators (originally obtained from the government's website) and events (originally obtained from Facebook).

Challenges we ran into

Our main challenge in building this tool was simply how broad we wanted it to be, and with such a short timeframe, we were not able to fully implement all the many features our application will one day have. There are three main next steps we will take on our web application. First, we will implement the Google Map API into the event searcher so that users may visualize addresses as well as see them. Second, we will make use of the Facebook API to directly query Facebook events to our calendar rather than indirectly through out own database. Though we wanted to do this originally, we discovered that out app would need to be approved by Facebook first, a process that could not happen on the tight schedule of a hackathon. Third, we had never built a WebCrawler (as will be used in our fact-checker), so this was definitely a challenge that we will continue to work on and soon complete!

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Even still, we are proud of the application we produced, particularly the backend database connectivity. We hope you enjoy the time we spent working on our user interface, making it pleasing to the eye, easy to understand, and as simple as possible. We are also proud of the work we did to learn to write scripts and implement APIs, since we did not have any experience with that beforehand. We are proud of all that we have learned by completing this project.

What we learned

For both of us, this whole project was a wonderful challenge– neither of us had ever used node.js or PUG or even built a dynamic web app before, so even though we hit a few roadblocks along the way, it was a wonderful learning experience! We deepened our knowledge of user interfaces and CSS, and we learned more about how APIs function in code and how corporations manage APIs and their licensing. Overall, we learned that with a positive attitude and some persistent Google searches, you can create anything you can imagine, and that is the lesson we will ultimately carry with us out of this Hackathon.

What's next for Find Change, Make Change

Find Change, Make Change will continue to develop its array of resources by gaining licensure to implement a Facebook event API, which will help us find more events to automate onto our calendar. We will also continue building our WebCrawler in order to create a media bias/fact checker, which will additionally use AI to look at news articles and point out potential fallacies. After that, we hope to spread our platform around and make Find Change, Make Change a well-known platform for organizers and activists so that these movements will become more centralized and accessible to all.

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