Established in 2005, Sunshine Week is a national initiative that focuses on educating the public about the dangers of excessive government secrecy. The event was started by the American Society of Newspaper Editors and supported through a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. According the the Sunshine Week official website, “Sunshine Week seeks to enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger.”
Here at Sunlight, folks will be kicking off Sunshine Week with Sunshine at Sundown, a networking happy hour to discuss issues surrounding transparency in government and to learn the latest from those working on and committed to open government.
We also rounded up a few events happening at the state and local level for Sunshine Week.
- OKLAHOMA: FOI Oklahoma will be ringing in Sunshine Week with its 2012 Sunshine Conference at The Oklahoman Tower in Oklahoma City. Speakers include lawmakers, public officials and open government experts. Early registration ends March 7, but walk-ins will be accepted beginning at 8:30 a.m. on the 10th. For more information, see the FOI Oklahoma blog.
- FLORDIA: Florida is holding their second annual Sunshine Summit in Orlando. “Barbara Peterson, president of the First Amendment Foundation in Tallahassee, will be the keynote speaker. The free summit is sponsored by the First Amendment Foundation, Florida Society of News Editors, The Associated Press and the Carroll McKenney Foundation for Public Media. For more details, check out the FSNE website.
- MICHIGAN: In Michigan, the League of Women Voters of the Midland Area will sell public service ads to local businesses to run on radio stations WMPX/WMRX (1490 AM/97.7FM) from March 12-15 to commemorate Sunshine Week. The Radio Days program is a fundraiser that helps the League’s work for government transparency. For the whole story, see the Midland Daily News.
- MASSACHUSETTS: In honor of Sunshine Week, the Worcester Sunshine Week Committee will submit several open government proposals at the City Council meeting today, including a call for a social media retention policy, easy access to video recordings of meetings, a city point person for access issues and support for Massachusetts state public records bills. Watch the group of citizen journalists discuss transparency in an online video or join the discussion at worcsunshine@googlegroups.
- NORTH CAROLINA: The Carolina Public Press will host the first of two workshops designed to teach the public how to use open government laws to access public information. The event will be held on March 15th at Western Carolina University from 1-3:30 p.m.; the second, March 16 is at UNC Asheville from 1:30-4p.m. For more information, see the Carolina Public Press website.
- MISSOURI: The Missouri Sunshine Coalition is hosting a free public forum to provide training for citizens on state open records and meetings laws. Two local champions will be recognized as Sunshine Heroes during the event. The public forum will take place at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri-Columbia. For more details, check out the Missouri Press Association website.
- OHIO: Ohio’s League of Women Voters Akron Area , will be honoring both women and transparency during their Sunshine Week brunch. The event celebrates local women journalists in honor of Sunshine Week and begins at 11 a.m. at the Fairlawn Country Club. The event, co-hosted by the Akron Press Club, is open to the public, and tickets cost $35 ($25 for members of co-sponsoring organizations). For more information, see the write-up in the Akron Beacon Journal.
- NEW JERSEY: The Citizens Campaign will host a live, 1-hour webinar with NJ Foundation for Open Government president Walter Luers at 6 p.m. To register, go to The Citizens Campaign website.
- NEW HAMPSHIRE: The New England First Amendment Coalition, the New Hampshire Press Association and the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications are hosting a free public forum at the Loeb School from 5-7 p.m. with a local attorney and a NH senior assistant attorney general will give an overview of the state’s right-to-know laws. For more information, see the Union Leader website.
- VIRTUAL: The American Society of News Editors will host a Twitter chat with open government experts from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Knight Foundation, Sunshine in Government Initiative, Openthegovernment.org, ProPublica, the First Amendment Center, the Project On Government Oversight, American University and the Office of Government Information Services.The 1-hour online discussion will begin at 2 p.m. Eastern using the hashtag #ASNEchat.
Do you think you’ll check out any of these events? Let us know what you think!