Geek As Citizen: A Retrospective

Many Worlds

So I’m working along the Geek Catalog – though life at times has conspired to challenge this “once a week” plan I had. Still, even now it’s chugging along and I’m learning a lot.  Glad I got an update this week.

So I wanted to share what I’ve found.

Now before I go on, I’ll answer the inevitable questions, yes I want to make it into more of a database anyway. But I’m going to save that challenge for later.

But as to what I’ve learned by cataloging geeky charities and civic engagements . . .

There Are Some Pretty Specific Ones – It seems that I keep finding some specifically fandom-based ones that surprise me or that I hadn’t heard of. Fandom-specific groups, banding together to do good works, often leveraging their social structure or even the ideals of the media.  It tells me there must be many more to find.

Some Are Well Known – In Their Spheres – Some of the highly fannish charities are “ones everyone knows” – but in there spheres. So some people think they’re known – and may be surprised someone had never heard of them.  There’s probably a lot of siloed fandom communication.

There Are A Lot Of Geek Causes – If you’re a geek and you want to get socially involved there is something for you and your individual geek. Coding, green, education, writing. If you like it and you want to use it to change the world, there is something there.  I may not have found it yet, but it’s probably there.

These People Are Serious – The folks I run into are serious, even when having fun. Be it lack of representation in STEM to improving technology access in impoverished areas, the people I meet are dedicated.  People want to make a difference.

These People Are Nice – The folks I’ve met are almost universally nice. They’re ready to be reached out to – though they’re often kinda busy.

A Lot Of These Causes Don’t Know Each Other – What gets really strange is to see how many geeky causes, events, charities, etc. don’t connect with each other or know about each other. Often they seem to be off on their own and not realize there’s more.  This isn’t just fandom silos, this is almost entire cultural silos.

There Are Some Surprising Resources – Things like Scistarter, and assorted charity guides are out there. If you are looking to be a civic geek there are places to help you get more engaged.

Go Local – There are many geek causes that are local – sometimes that’s part of their calling. Fix-it shops, computer repurposing, and so on operate locally (indeed they have to).  Others may have a dedicated geographic location like a museum. If you’re looking to be more engaged, it might be not too far outside your door.

Levels and Levels – Many geeky charities and causes have different levels of involvement. Some are charities, some raise money for charities. Some are local (as noted above), some national or international. If you look only on one “level” you may miss many.

Many “Geeky” Causes That Aren’t Fannish Aren’t As Aware Of The Scene – I meet people who are in geeky causes often unaware of the larger geek scene. I humbly suggest you get these people introduced to cons, cosplay, etc. and other things that can leverage your compatriots.

As I’ve explored options for Civic Geekery it’s been heartening and fascinating. There’s a lot out there, entire worlds and layers we may miss, a lot going on, and a lot of potential to change the world. The people have been nice, understanding, and committed.

If you want to change the world, there are plenty of folks out there who want to do it with you.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, publishes books on career and culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at

Geek Catalog Update 10/5/2014

The latest updates to the Geek Catalog are here!  Heavy on coding this time since that’s where my research led me.

As always, check out the full list for the Geek Focus and Community Focus Listings.


Comics and Cartoons

  • History
    • Cartoon Art Museum – A museum for all forms of cartoon art, performing preservation, dispays, events, and more. Established in 1984, it has a permanent home in San Francisco.


  • Education
    • Black Girls CODE – Introduces girls from underrepresented communities to coding. Focuses on community outreach, education, and technology awareness
    • Computer Clubhouse – Sponsored by Intel, this organization uses technology and technology training to help people from underserved communities. Focuses on developing a network of “Clubhouses”
    • ScriptEd – ScriptEd provides coding skills and professional experiences to under-resourced youth, focusing on developing careers.
    • Teens Exploring Tech – Focusing on men of color from low-income communities, Teens Exploring Tech teaches coding, life, and community skills.
    • Yes We Code – #YesWeCode is an outreach and training program with the goal of training 100,000 low-opportunity young people to be coders


  • Ocean Preservation
    • Marine Conservation Institute – An organized, sustainability-oriented institute focused on protecting marine ecosystems. Heavily driven by partnerships, alliance, and outreach.


  • Books
    • Little Free Library – An organization promoting building local, personal “little free libraries” to promote reading and community.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, publishes books on career and culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at