Quarantine is often an unpleasant experience for those who undergo it. Separation from loved ones, the loss of freedom, uncertainty over disease status, and boredom can, on occasion, create dramatic effects. Especially with the COVID-19 outbreak and rise in mandatory quarantine's, people are spending a lot of time alone and distanced from being with their communities. Namely, a community of people is joined by similar interests or beliefs. But what happens when you can't connect with your community anymore? When you cannot bond over your similar interest? When you can not advocate for your beliefs?
In an exchange for the selfless act of isolation and keeping yourself and others safe, you may have times where you miss your community and your homies you have organized with. When you are with your community, You feel understood. You feel heard. When you are with your community and advocating for yourself, and for those around you, you are helping your community. In a community, you can find support and depend on each other. Communities are necessary. Having your community support you, and you supporting your community is essential. Communities are essential in advocating for one another. You may be advocating for your neighbor who does not have the privilege of voting, your neighbor down the street who has is working back-to-back 12-hour shifts to support their family, or advocating for someone living across the country from you. A community is not limited to location, and we are trying to stress that with this application.
Just because you are socially distant does not me advocating for your community stops. And especially with technology now, you don’t even have to be in a physical community. This is the inspiration we drew from for our FindMyHomie application. Your community isn't and shouldn't be limited by your location. Without worrying about the danger of potentially spreading deadly diseases with one another, you can be together. Your community should not be limited by your location, that is why before your filter by congressional distract you find your homie through the messaging portion. By finding an anonymous homie then filtering your location by congressional district you are able to see the key elected officials you can reach out to. By connecting and finding a homie through the messaging portion you are able to connect with your homie that and let them know you are reaching out to your elected official and then encourage each other to keep advocating with drafting emails (etc.) to elected officials for advocacy issues that you both care about.
What it does
Your community should not be limited by your location, that is why before your filter by congressional distract you find your homie through the messaging portion. By finding an anonymous homie through filtering through different chat rooms (based on advocacy issue), you are then able to filter by your location by congressional district you are able to see the key elected officials you can reach out to. By connecting and finding a homie through the messaging portion you are able to connect with your homie that and let them know you are reaching out to your elected official and then encourage each other to keep advocating with drafting emails (etc.) to elected officials for advocacy issues that you both care about.
The main point of our application can connect with other homies based on something you advocate for. Let’s say you advocate for going green (implementing environmentally-friendly practices). You would be matched with someone who also has a similar interest through the chatroom feature. Then, you are able to ask a homie to advocate with you. Then, you are taken to another page where you enter your City name and the contact information for local representatives shows up. You can email your local representative, and then go back to the messaging page to let your anonymous homie know that you sent the email!
You are also able to talk to your homie about the same advocacy issue that you both care about and encourage one another to keep sending emails to elected officials. FindMyHomie is a way for you to connect with the homie from the greater community and advocate together - while socially distant :)
How I built it
Find My Homies was built using React. The My Reps page is coded with Ruby and Jekyll and calls the Google Civic Information API to locate and provided contact information for the federal, state, county, and local elected representatives using the users input or current location with the Google Maps API. The chat function provides a way to connect with fellow homie advocates by using the react-chat-window to provide an intercom chat window to send messages and files.
Challenges we ran into
A challenge we ran into is running the backend of the "find my representatives" page on React, since we did not have prior experiences with using Jekyll in React. Sorting the information with a simplistic UI was also difficult, as all of us are still beginners when it comes to creating React apps.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Find My Homies is a way to advocate for issues such as environmentalism and connect with others that have similar issues and still be safe with the covid outbreak. It has a simple and easy to use UI and provides many ways to advocate for a policy. We are proud of successfully calling the Google Civic Information API to return the representatives near a user location in Ruby.
What we learned
We learned new APIs such as the Google Civic Information API and the Google Maps API and using Ruby and Jekyll in React for the first time. Working on this website was great experience and we are looking forward to adding more features to help people connect on similar interests!
What's next for FindMyHomie
We plan to include features that connect groups of people with a similar advocacy and give a variety of ways to advocate by providing advocacy organizations to join and support and by educating the community as well as policy makers on certain issues.