Chandler Named “Playful City USA” Community For 7th Straight Year

We are proud to acknowledge that KaBOOM! has named the City of Chandler a Playful City USA community for the 7th straight year. Recognizing the effort to provide children ample opportunities for play.


Copyright Ronn Tan

Play is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive and physical well-being of children. We are proud to have our Health, Local and Junior initiatives working with the city to provide opportunities and guide policy that encourages play. It is fantastic to see the lack of play in this generation of children being addressed the mayor, council, staff, school district and community.

“Quality parks, playgrounds, and aquatic centers have been a Chandler priority for decades, because we value families and we want our children to have opportunities for fun and fitness,” said Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny. “We are committed to developing healthy, fulfilled children and families, and that’s why we are honored to be recognized as a Playful City USA for the seventh straight time.”

Sometimes it is easy to forget that children spend nearly eight hours a day in front a screen, many have no or little recess time and one in five children don’t live within walking distance of a park. Chandler has been actively creating innovative programs and initiatives to combat these problems by developing unique local action plans to increase the quantity and quality of play in their community.

Chandler is now eligible for grants via Let’s Play, a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to get kids and families active nationwide.

Local Initiative Improving Chandler Through Public Space

The Urban Times has a great piece on “10 Ways to Improve Your City through Public Space“.  It speaks volumes to the work we are trying to do with the Local Initiative in Chandler.  So lets take a look at what we have done to strengthen these areas.

1. Improve Streets as Public Places

When we first came to downtown Chandler we helped push for the widening of pedestrian ways, including adding benches and trees for shade.  In fact, it won an International Downtown Association Award. We have pushed for the city to close Arizona Avenue on a more regular basis for events starting with the Chandler Block Party.  We have a long way to go, but we are making a dent.

2. Create Squares and Parks as Multi-Use Destinations

We have worked with the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership to strengthen the Chandler Farmer’s Market and the Chandler Art Walk in the historic town square and AJ Chandler Park.  We have encouraged a number of events and expansion of the park to include a stage for 10,000+ person events such as the Great American BBQ and Beer Festival.

3. Build Local Economies through Markets

Once again the Artwalk and Farmers market are key examples, but Gangplank itself is an example of a bustling market for ideas.

4. Design Buildings to Support Place

We are working closely with the City on a number of RFPs for new building and have been active in zoning, adaptive reuse code and encouraging of pedestrian flow to connect all parts of the downtown area including access to public transportation.

5. Link a Public Health Agenda to a Public Space Agenda

We have failed here.  We have tried a number of attempts to various bicycle depots and other connectivity.  We have been moderately successful with the Gangplank Mile (GP Health) getting people out of their office and walking around downtown.

6. Reinvent Community Planning

Between City Camp AZ, Vibrant Phoenix, The Manifesto Project and various other events we have significantly changed the engagement level of residents by including them in the process of defining the future.

7. Power of 10

Gangplank, San Tan Brewing, Chandler Center for the Arts, Chandler Library, Vision Gallery, Paletas Betty, Vintage 95, Bourbon Jacks, and more.  We are getting closer, but still working on this one.

8. Create a Comprehensive Public Space Agenda

We have started discussions with the City but it is slow going.  Change is hard.  We have a few things up our sleeve.

9. Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: Start Small, Experiment

We recently did a community garden using a neighbors front  yard.  We have done pop up events and played with space.  We can do better here but we are trying.

10. Restructure Government to Support Public Spaces

It is hard, but it is happening.  We meet with the city every two weeks and share ideas and explore new possibilities.  Working towards a relationship of mutual respect and trust in building great public space together.

I am also President of the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership so my work with the Local Initiative and the DCCP blurs greatly.  The Local initiative has a direct influence on the work in every way.

What are you doing for your community?

3D Printing Pen (3Doodler) on Order

WobbleWorks put together an incredible KickStarter recently, that raised over $2.3 million in funding, for a 3D printing pen.  The 3Doodler is a pen that can draw in the air.  You can hold it in your hand and draw 3D objects.  No software or computer necessary.

Gangplank Labs has supported this project and should have a 3Doodler in hand by the end of the year.  We will keep you updated, so when it comes in you can stop by and doodle with us.  Happy Hacking.

Explore Arizona Gangplank Junior Edition

It’s hiking season and it’s time to get out and enjoy the weather.  We have a few hikes scheduled for the season.  Hikes will begin at 9:30am and generally last 1-2 hours.  Most hikes will be about 2 miles in length.  More information will be posted as we get closer to the dates.

December 11th : Gilbert Riparian Preserve 2.0 Miles 0.5 Difficulty

December 18th : Piestewa Peak Alternate Summit 0.8 Miles 1.5 Difficulty

January 15th: San Tan Regional Park (Moonlight) 1.3 Miles 1.5 Difficulty

January 22nd: North Mountain 1.42 Miles 2.5 Difficulty

January 29th: Shaw Butte 2.7 Miles 2.0 Difficulty

Lego League Reflections: This Year vs Last Year

Ryan Dinnan and Tanner Saadi take some time to reflect on changes in First Lego League from last year.  They analyzed the good and bad of how things have changed.  Including, bot design, board layout, challenges, overall topic, the team and much more.

Tanner’s Thoughts

The bot design is much better this year.  We can attachments in more ways and much easier than last year.  The board this year is harder because there are more things on it than last year.  The challenges are harder this year because it feels impossible to get 100% this year.  The topic this year is better because it is something you never thought was a problem.  The team this year is better because we argue a lot less.

Ryan’s Thoughts

This year Lego League has been awesome.  There are less people so now everyone is involved.  Unlike last year when some people were sitting in the cornering watching instead.  This year the board has more challenges so is more exciting.  The challenges are difficult and easy.  The topic is also better because it has a variety of things that can be chosen from it.  The bot design is also better for adding attachments and easier to line up.  In conclusion, I think this year is better than last year.

Downtown Chandler Community Garden

We have been working with the City of Chandler, Chandler Christian Community Center and Harvest for Humanity for the last six months to get a garden situated in Downtown Chandler. The vision was a garden for the community with the surplus going to feed the homeless at Chandler Christian Community Center. We are proud to say that they broke ground this last week!

Many people ask “What is a community garden?” and what are the benefits?

Here are some of the benefits.

  • Improves the quality of life for people in the garden
  • Provides a catalyst for neighborhood and community development
  • Stimulates Social Interaction
  • Encourages Self-Reliance
  • Beautifies Neighborhoods
  • Produces Nutritious Food
  • Reduces Family Food Budgets
  • Conserves Resources
  • Creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education
  • Reduces Crime
  • Preserves Green Space
  • Creates income opportunities and economic development
  • Reduces city heat from streets and parking lots
  • Provides opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural connections

If you want to find out more about community gardening happening at Gangplank, check out our Community Garden Forum. If you want to do some innovating gardening, check out the Garden Pool Story.

Chandler Project Receives International Downtown Association Award

One of the reasons Gangplank moved to downtown Chandler was the city’s commitment to improving walkability with an emphasis on building up[1]. The approval of the widening of Arizona Avenue for pedestrians was critical in our decision to move[2]. The International Downtown Association (IDA) is giving Chandler an award for public space improvement enhancing urban design, physical function and economic viability. It is great to see the IDA agrees Chandler is making a move in the right direction.

“Each year the IDA Awards Jury recognizes organizations that utilize best practices in our industry,” said David Downey, IDA President and CEO. “The South Arizona Avenue Improvements are a shining example of excellent downtown management that delivers real results[3].”

The Arizona Chapter of the American Public Works Association selected this project as “Project of the Year” and it is a finalist in the Valley Forward Association’s Environmental Excellence Awards. The project received the Build Arizona Award from the Arizona Chapter of the Associated General Contractors for municipal/utilities construction projects costing under $10 million (awarded in February) and the General Design Award from the Arizona Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (awarded in March).

[1] Gangplank Looking To Move Downtown
[2] Update on Gangplank Move
[3] Constructing Chandler’s Downtown Creative Class

Schools of the Future

It is no secret that Gangplank Jr is an experiment to see what could be possible in educating kids for the new economy.  Here is a sample of what a school in the future might look like.  If you are interested in seeing this sort of thing happen for your children, please sign up and get involved.


Improve Your Public Speaking

Improving at anything requires practice.  Mastering a skill requires a LOT of practice. Unfortunately, it is difficult to practice public speaking, presenting, teaching or facilitation by yourself.  In general, it requires some form of audience to simulate the real thing.

Groups like Toastmaster’s have existed for some time, but they seem to be rooted in the ways of the past, not those of the future.  As an expirement we are going to try Gangplank Speakers. Continue reading

Avondale as a Potential Partner

A few weeks ago we talked about “Gangplank Tucson and Beyond“. It’s no secret that we have been looking for a home on the West side of metro Phoenix to complete a segment that gives Gangplank coverage over the currently populated spectrum of the Sun Corridor.


When we were looking to move out of Gangplank 2.0 we set forth five characteristics that we felt were critical to our success. In looking for a West valley partner, we set out to find a municipality that also shared our values. We have learned that when motivated creators partner with a city that is ready to move into the future, a whole new level of civic engagement begins. We have been talking over the last few months with the City of Avondale and believe that they are the right partner. They understand the importance of a Phoenix-Tucson mega region and get collaboration on every level. We have been excited to see their council and economic development team actively working with the City of Chandler to pull the entire Valley forward. We were impressed with their involvement at CityCampAZ and that they want to bring something new to their school system. They have shown that they are serious about succeeding in the future.

Some things that have us excited about Avondale investing in their downtown:

  • An updated General plan
  • Emphasizing priority to old town redevelopment
  • Focus on diversity and expansion of small business
  • Regional collaboration
  • Specifically calling out a measure to create a sense of place
  • Investment in civic public spaces
  • Strong push for rail travel along MC-85 and Main
  • Plan specifically targeting old town
  • Central Ave Bicycle Facility Project (An extreme commitment to pedestrian traffic)
  • Facade Improvement Program
  • Reduced fees for infill development <- pay attention other cities!
  • Nearly $50 Million already invested in last decade
  • Circular bus routes for neighborhood transportation

This is clearly a city that is interested in making radical change and attracting good talent. They are ready to be a regional player and a leader in moving Arizona forward. We hope that we can find a way in the near future to make them a part of the Gangplank family.

Potential Gangplank Avondale