April is here, and for most of D.C. that signals the annual blooming of the district’s cherry blossom trees. Here at Sunlight, however, it means something a little different: [PyCon](https://us.pycon.org/2015/) is nearly upon us!
PyCon, the largest annual gathering of Python developers, is a special time for us here at Sunlight. We’ve had a presence at every PyCon since 2008, and have been running an Open Government Hackathon during the PyCon sprints since (https://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2009/02/17/open-government-hackathon-chicago/). In fact, the project that would become [Open States](http://openstates.org) began at that 2009 PyCon, when dozens of Pythonistas donated their time to the then-unproven idea that we could scrape legislative information from all 50 states.
This year we’ll be in Montreal, and are looking forward to building a new army of scrapers: to collect data about political influence at all levels of government. A surprising amount of information is available online about the individuals and organizations that are interested in influencing policy and legislation in your state. So, we’re organizing a distributed effort to build a data commons in the public domain, to help everyone understand how these avenues of influence work and what effect they have on our lives.
The focus of the work will be on writing new scrapers, but, if you’re interested in working with existing data, that’d be great too. We have a lot of interesting problems related to digitizing scanned data, information extraction and record linkage we’d be glad to have help on.
If you want to get involved, we’ll be at [the sprints](https://us.pycon.org/2015/community/sprints/) April 13-15. Also, if you’re going to be near Montreal those days, it’s worth noting that attending PyCon isn’t required to attend sprints. And of course, if you’re at PyCon make sure to find us and say hi.
See you in Montreal!