As the holidays approach there is a good chance you might give or receive an iPad, Nook or Kindle. That fresh little hottie is gonna need some content. Did you know that the Chandler Public Library offers content for these devices for check out, just like physical books?
That’s right your Chandler Public Library card gives you access to thousands of e-books, including fiction, non-fiction, young-adult and children’s titles (plus audio books). Using service like Overdrive, TumbleBooks and Axis 360.
“While many of our customers may not be as familiar with Axis 360, they are pleasantly surprised at the number of new and current titles that are available to download. There is really something for everyone on this platform,” said Rosanna Johnson, a spokesperson for the library.
Don’t like to read books, but love magazines. They have those digitally through Zinio. The Library offers over 300 popular magazines to download including Us Weekly, Consumer Reports, The Economist, Newsweek and Arizona Highways. There are also specialized magazines for car enthusiasts, woodworkers, cooks, and more.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guides and other reference guides are available for downloading through the Gale Virtual Reference Library. “The Eyewitness Travel Guides are high quality and provide thorough detail that can really add to someone’s travel experience, especially if they can download it right onto their tablet and easily access it on their trip,” adds Johnson.
In addition to reading material, cardholders can access free music downloads with Freegal and online language courses through Mango Languages. Freegal offers access to about 7 million songs, including Sony Music’s catalog of legendary artists, ranging for current hits to show tunes to ethnic genres.
With Mango, you learn grammar, vocabulary, and basic conversational phrases through their basic flashcard system. These resources can be accessed through software applications, or apps, that are available through the Apple iTunes store and Google Play store.
Get out there and rediscover what your library can do for you.
Community Meeting Notes 12/11/2013
By: Jeremy S.
NOTE: There were no meetings on 11/27 or 12/4.
Discussion on Email Discussion Groups: There is a general concern with some of the content recently discussed on the email group “chandler-community”. It put us in a bad light, both in general, when certain people post things that can damage our outward facing community. We affirmed that we purposely created an open discussion group for transparency and it shouldn’t represent us widely or individually when someone says something dumb, but we admit it can still happen. That said, we unanimously agreed to remove the topic in question from our public archive, despite being anti-censorship and aiming for transparency.
We feel there are better ways to engage newer members of our community and feel the discussion group should be tailored for people very active. We should introduce new people to “less-intense” options. We know for a small period of time new people were welcomed to the group.
We recommend temporarily suspending the group until a solution could be found.
Dessert Potluck Next Week: Next week is the holiday dessert potluck, in lieu of the brownbag.
Brownbags Update: Jenny from Hiring Solved reports that we are scheduled until 3/5 on Brown Bags. We have had some great Brown Bags this fall and hope to keep up the good work.
Jade Meskill, Derek Neighbors, Nicole Neditch, and Luke Norris discuss Code For America.
Jade Meskill: Hello. Welcome to another episode of the “Dangercast.” We’ll talk about the culture and design of Gangplank. I’m Jade Meskill.
Derek Neighbors: I’m Derek Neighbors.
Nicole Neditch: I’m Nicole Neditch.
Luke Norris: And Luke Norris.
Jade: We have Nicole and Luke here from Code for America. Tell us a little bit about what Code for America is about and then we’ll get into some of the other things we want to talk about.
Luke: Yeah, sure. Code for America is a non‑profit start‑up based in San Francisco, California. We have the notion, that not only coding across America takes place just in San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago, but it’s actually’s happening around the US and around the world now.
We aim to help cities better leverage technology, become more innovative in the way that they respond to the needs of citizens, use technology and engage with citizens to create a democracy or government that’s for the people, of the people, and most importantly by the people.
Jade: Awesome. We were talking right before we hit record, about how this ties in well with Gangplank’s Local initiative. On the Dangercast we’ve just started getting into the details of some of the different initiatives that we have.
Derek, you had some interesting thoughts about how those align. Maybe you could share that with the listeners.
Derek: Yeah, one of the things that Code for America does…we’ve got a local brigade here. We’ve done several hack‑a‑thons. Our Labs program, as well as our Local program, participate in Code for America quite a bit, and the number of initiatives around it.
One of the things that gets lost for people that tend to be more techy in nature is they think that it is solely about code and hacking, but in reality it’s really about changing how we think about how we govern people, and what the governance model looks like.
A large part of that is creating more transparency, in creating better ways to engage. In making it easier for the people to be active in how they’re governed, and how they run their city, and how they create their city.
Which I think completely overlaps with what we’re trying to do with our Local program. Which is really not only those things, but also how do we create attachment to place, how do we do place‑making, and a big part of that is feeling like you’re an active participant in moving your community forward.
So there’s a whole lot of overlap. We certainly tried to get Code for America in Chandler three or four years ago when the program first started, and it just…Things weren’t quite right for that to happen, so we’re super excited to see them do some regional stuff here with some partners.
I’m excited. I’m super excited about what the potential is there. Maybe you guys could tell us a little bit about ‑‑ we’re familiar with it, but I don’t know if all the listeners are, maybe you could tell us a little about Code for America brings in some fellows to work with a city and community partner.
Maybe you could us a bit about like how somebody, how those fellows are chosen. What looks like how many there are and what the relationship is between the city that they go to and what the expectations are/aren’t, and what the goals are around some of that.
Nicole: Sure. Code for America operates…it’s a competitive program so both cities apply to be a Code for America city and fellows apply to be fellows. We had about 650 applicants this year that were from all over the country and we chose about 30 that are going to go into 10 cities this year.
There are three fellows per city and usually the team of three consists of a designer, a UX designer somebody who is thinking about the user experience. A programmer, somebody who is going to code that experience, and then a project manager or a researcher, something in that type of a role.
Those three fellows that come out ‑‑ they go through a month of training in the month of January and then they come out of each of the cities so Mesa is one of the cities this year and they are going to embed themselves in the cities for the entire month just to do a ton of research and that’s going to go into creating an application that has impact and scale within the community.
Derek: And so all of the prior work that’s been done by fellows in cities, is that available for other cities to use or how does that work? Is it that then a property of the city or does it go back an open source what does that look like?
Luke: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that we’re most interested in and committed to is building an open source environment. And so fundamentally, if you think about the role of cities, whether there are cities with 2 million people or 70,000, fundamentally cities face the same types of problems, in the way that they deliver service to their citizens.
When we go into cities, we build the applications that are in an open source environment that allows for those applications to be re‑deployed in the other communities and so the fellows’ primary objective is to create new piece of technology that impacts some types of problem that exist in the local community that we also know is evident around the other communities in the US.
But while they are there, they have the opportunity to turn back to some of their fellow alumni as well as Code for America to talk about how you can redeploy applications like a Doctor Hydrant or you can leverage other types of technologies that may have spun out into civic start‑ups which is something that we also really promote.
It’s an interesting part of our model and the way we help grow companies that can now become a part of the system of providing new service to government. Getting a piece of this 140 million dollar industry ‑‑ that is just huge for state and local IT spends.
Derek: It’s really interesting that…I don’t think enough people choose to understand enough about how they’re governed to understand that cities, generally, are just giant companies that provide a number of services.
We tend to think of fire service and police service, that’s pretty easy to translate. It’s like having a plumber come out.
Jade: It’s very tangible.
Derek: Right, it’s very tangible. I understand that. I pick up a phone, I call it, somebody comes out, performs some service. I get that. But they don’t necessarily think of zoning, or planning, or code enforcement, or those type of things nearly being as service‑based as other things.
I find it very interesting that we do, Jade and I, both, do a lot of consulting in the start‑up or innovator space in technology. What I really hear you describing is a small start‑up team. You’ve got a designer, you’ve got a developer, and you’ve got a product person of some kind, whether it’s research or management. Whatever you’ve got.
Somebody looking out for the greater thing. You’re trying to attach them to a problem space within a service. How do we improve service delivery of some kind, either whether it be holistic service delivery, or an individual service delivery.
How do we basically create a mini‑startup around that in a short amount of time, and deliver and iterate on it?
To me, the thing that’s exciting is if we can start to get cities to start to believe this way, not only is there an opportunity for the private sector, but I there’s an opportunity for the public sector to start to say, instead of having these monolithic, siloed departments for service delivery, could we instead line up our organization, to say, what problems are we trying to solve?
Can we create these very small teams, maybe it’s not three people, maybe it’s five, people, six people that are focused on how do we best solve that problem. People need to do permitting, maybe we have a permitting team, and it’s their job to integrate technology and problem solving and design and a number of things to say, how do we make that a super easy in our city? How do we make that the best service possible?
So is part of that…what are some of the things you’ve seen developed in previous classes, or previous segments of Code for America in other states? What are some of the biggest successes or lessons learned that you’ve seen come out of that?
Luke: Maybe I’ll talk a little bit about something that came out of Philadelphia, in part because you touched on some of the opportunity, then Nicole can definitely speak a little bit about what was built in Oakland and San Francisco.
You brought up planning as a function. A lot of really important decisions about cities and the way their built and the infrastructure that goes into those are made at small meetings where they’re at seven o’clock at night in a small room at City Hall, they’re not well publicized. Sometimes the room can’t accommodate more than 10 people, and they’re totally boring.
Luke: In Philadelphia, which was a fellowship project in 2012, they basically said this is a problem that exists for us and other communities, so how can we fundamentally change the way that citizens interact with these planning decisions?
We looked at that and decided, what if we built something with really basic SMS‑based texting capabilities that overcome some of the issues of the digital divide? What about now asking people for input at the point of service where they’re encountering problems, or maybe where these decisions are actually going to impact.
If you now have this poster on a bus, or you’re at a line in City Hall, if you ask these questions now you can get really good, real time input from the people that are experiencing those problems.
By using just basic texting features ‑‑ and not smartphone enabled or having people go to a website ‑‑ you’re actually getting feedback from people that probably, A, would never have come to that city meeting, but more importantly people that probably would never have had the ability to ever know that they could provide feedback.
That’s a great example. We’ve done some incredible work in Oakland where Nicole actually was the city partner, and also did some really great stuff in San Francisco and San Mateo County this year as well.
Nicole: In Oakland this year we were looking at access to information and what that looked like. As you touched on, the government provides service but we don’t necessarily always think of it as a service provider in the same way that you would imagine some of the private sector businesses would be.
Part of that is because we’ve got a monopoly on the service that we provide. There’s nobody else that is competing for this service delivery mechanism. So we don’t have anything to gauge ourselves towards except maybe other cities.
Something that was happening in Oakland a year ago when we were starting our Code for America fellowship, we had Occupy Oakland, there was a lot of requests for public information about how things were handled around the Occupy Oakland protests in Oakland. We were seeing a lot of backlash about people not feeling like they were being able to get the information that they needed about how things transpired and how the city was governing the town during this time.
So tons of service requests coming in, tons of public information requests coming in. People wanted copies of all emails over a certain period of time, things like that. The city wasn’t really providing those in a really timely manner.
We were getting a lot of press about how that was happening and it was hard on the city. It was a hard time for the city. So the fellows came in and they saw some of this tension and just this lack of trust between the citizens and the city, that was happening because of all of these that was happening at the time.
So they looked at how do we provide access to information in a more transparent, more easy‑to‑digest way? What they worked on was a public records request tracker basically and so you can submit a public records request. In the past, you submit a public records request, it gets thrown over a wall, you don’t really know where it’s going, who’s seeing it and when it’s going to be responded to.
They created a public view for that so that it was all transparent. So that you could see what requests were made, you can search on those requests, you can see the responses that came from the city. It really helped the city in ways that were great because the city is now able to actually see the different requests that are coming through, also and be able to monitor how it’s doing as a city as well.
In San Francisco we saw another application that was developed that was around food stamps. Basically what they noticed in San Francisco was that a lot of people were falling off food stamps and they didn’t even realize that that was happening until they were in line at the grocery store and they want to go and pay for their food, and they had their kids with them and all of a sudden they were ineligible for service.
They had been getting these letters in the mail but they were these long letters, they were very complicated letters. They were the kinds of things you kind of shove to the side until you have time to deal with.
They took a look at that letter and they thought, “OK, why is this happening? How do we notify people of this before they actually fall out of the system”? So they had started out wanting to make a Web application and then they realized that the people they were trying to target really weren’t using the Internet.
They didn’t really have smartphones and so they created a text message application. It’s a very simple application but it just goes out right before you’re about to fall off food stamps and you get a notification so that you can call and you can make the arrangements and you don’t fall off. It’s a very simple application but it’s going to do a ton for the city of San Francisco. It’s something that can be leveraged across cities.
Derek: The thing that’s interesting is bringing up something that a lot of technologists forget. Which is, we tend to be the minority not the majority when it comes to our level of access to technology, to smartphones, to high speed Internet, to a number of those things. There are a lot of the services that are provided by cities aren’t available.
These are some of the design hacks or some of the hacks are how we do use older technology or how do we use things that we wouldn’t traditionally think of but can bring kind of that like hacker ethos. Sort of that technical bench to it to provide something that’s existed for a long time but people haven’t thought of it as a way to deliver it.
The other really interesting thing I heard you guys talking about earlier when we’d gone through the process of exploring for Chandler. One of the things that is unique about Code for America is it really requires a community partner as well as a city partner.
So it’s not just enough for a city to step up and say, “Hey, we want some fellows, let’s do this,” but I think that you guys recognize that there is need for community. So maybe you could tell us a little bit about why that decision is made and what some of the expectations are among the community partner side outside of essentially hoping for funding or what not but what is the expectation or why did you decide to include community and how do they fit into that process?
Luke: Yeah, it’s really multi‑faceted. One of the reasons for that is often times, governments are doing really incredible really innovative things that there is not necessarily a communication channel for the city to share or there is not a lot of visibility into the community. So as we have community partners we have an opportunity to highlight some of the work that is really happening in cities that are making a difference.
The other part of it is we fundamentally want to engage citizens in the process of designing government and more importantly understanding how government can respond to their needs and how they can participate in their share of the economy. And so, as we have community partners we start to build a network of folks that are committed to demonstrating capacity we want to step up to that.
In some cities that we’re working in we have as many as 25 partners that are putting money on the table to say, “Help us bring Code for America to our city.” We are incredible fortunate here in the area to have ASU as the primary supporter of the project and I think that speaks volumes to not only who ASU is and the importance in value that they place on an innovation, but also the incredible access that they have to people, both academic students, community leaders across the region.
When you combine that with a really great forward‑looking, innovative group of folks in government, the success is just too incredible.
Derek: Yeah, the thing that is interesting, Gangplank plays that role a lot of times for the cities that we are partners with. We see two things happen as we’ve seen a lot of people that tend to have distrust towards cities and so giving them like an intermediary where it’s easy to interface with Gangplank and there is a high level of trust there, then it bridges like a friend of a friend, like we can make the introduction and help get involved there.
But it also comes back the other direction and a lot of times the city ‑‑ they’re not techy enough or they don’t hit the right creative community but they’re OK telling their story to somebody who gets a snail mail water bill, or goes to the library on a regular basis or the senior center, but they’re not so good at the really busy fast‑paced person who like gets all of their consumption through email, or Twitter, or Facebook, or different things and so it’s sometimes nice to be able to submit those things back.
We definitely see a much higher level of engagement in people that participate in Gangplank and that all we’re really doing is rebroadcasting stuff that’s already coming straight out of the PR department or the city staff or what not.
It’s just stuff that they would never ever see because it’s released in a press release that nobody will read, oppose to, a 140‑character tweet with a link to a newspaper article or something somewhere.
I think it’s a great strategy, I mean I love what you guys are doing.
Jade: We’re going to wrap this up but I am going to ask you a really hard question first before we close. The Gangplank, our core philosophy is that we need a radical transformation of how communities are built and grown and developed and the thing I am curious to hear from you guys is what does it look like when you’ve accomplished what you want to accomplish with Code for America?
How does the world look if that happens?
Luke: Yeah, that’s definitely a tough question. I think it looks like a totally different environment that we live in, right? Where there’s higher levels of trust between citizens and government that’s driven by transparency and engagement on both sides.
We’re doing a lot of work around, “What are the principles that 21st‑century cities look like”? Those include a lot of things.
They are engaging in technology‑led innovation. They’re creating a culture of innovation. They’re leveraging partnerships both with public and private institutions, but also around multi‑jurisdictional or multi‑municipality type things.
Fundamentally it’s going to change all of the ways that a lot of us think about government, while they’re still providing these core services. I think what it’s going to change is more the attitudinal response that all of us have to government.
I think that the most aspirational role is ‑‑ what if people could love their government as much as they love their iPhone and their Android device?
When you think about that as the aspirational goal, that gets you there.
Jade: That was an excellent on‑the‑spot response. I like that. All right, that sums it up. Thank you guys so much for coming out and recording with us.
Luke: Thanks for having us.
Jade: Yeah. We’ll catch you next time on the Dangercast.
Roy van de Water, Jade Meskill, and Derek Neighbors discuss the Gangplank initiatives.
Jade Meskill: Hello, welcome to the “Dangercast,” where we talk about the culture and design of “Gangplank.” I am Jade Meskill.
Roy van de Water: I am Roy van de Water.
Derek Neighbors: And I’m Derek Neighbors.
Jade: Today, we wanted to talk about the different initiatives that we have going on around Gangplank. Where should we begin?
Derek: Maybe we could talk a little bit of what initiatives are. When I look at Gangplank, it started to boil down…What is it that we really need in a community to be successful? And so those became the initiatives.
These are the big broad strokes of ‑‑ these are the thing that a creative community needs to thrive and to grow and to continue to move forward. Those became the initiatives. The general rule of thumb is that anything that happens in Gangplank should align to one or more of the initiatives in Gangplank.
If it doesn’t we have to ask the question “Is it something Gangplank should really be doing or not doing”? Or “Is this something new enough that it needs a new initiative”? We’ve got enough out there, we probably are not going to find too many initiatives we need, they’re going to fall underneath them.
Which is not to be confused with programs. Programs are actual things, whether it be events, whether it be tracks, whether it be different implementations or tactical pieces. Think of as the strategy of Gangplank and programs under initiatives are the tactical implementation of “How do you make that initiative come to life”?
Jade: I just want to give a simple example.
Roy: Would the Brownbag be a program and it would fall into the Academy initiative?
Derek: That’s correct. Something that might happen on a regular basis or be an event or a different structured thing, that happens to be a program. Brownbags are a great example of…Brownbag happens every single week.
The goal of the program is to provide content to people in an informal learning environment that fits within their day. Short bite, onetime thing. You might only come to one a year, you might come to one a week, you might come to one a month.
It falls under the initiative of Gangplank Academy which is really about learning and doing those. The program should align to the initiative that is trying to be achieved in the area.
Jade: Just like having a podcast studio is a program that belongs under our studio’s initiatives.
Derek: That’s correct.
Jade: Let’s list off what initiatives we have at this moment. I’ll read them off. We’ve got Academy, Business, Health, Gangplank Junior, Labs, Studios, and Local.
Roy: Guessing off that, I’m assuming academies is learning‑based. About self‑betterment in the form of knowledge, like, increasing your own knowledge and skills?
Derek: If you remember, one of the manifestos items is learning over expertise. One of the things Academy was really designed to do was be two‑fold. One, yes it’s a learning piece, but the second thing it was designed to do is…
Right now, the educational system is kind of defunct in that you don’t have a lot…
Jade: Just kind of.
Derek: Yeah. You don’t have a whole lot of practical knowledge happening. It’s a lot of theory. One of the things Academy was trying to do was go out and get people in the real world who do this for their living to get them to come in and to teach other people in short, burstable formats.
So we get a lot of people who would like to learn something new, but they are not willing to sign up for a community college or a university program that’s 25 weeks long, or 20 weeks long, two to three nights a week, or one night a week. But they would gladly come in for a one‑hour session three times in a month, or come in for a single half‑hour session.
That was part of it. But also to get people who have real‑world experience. The second aspect of Academy was that a lot of the educational opportunities that exist are not progressive enough.
Meaning, if a new language, or node JS came out last year, you can’t go find a class on node JS in a community college because it takes on average about five years from the time somebody produces or promotes, creates something, to the time it’s approved. In a really good university, it’s three years.
We know in technology, especially, shit that’s three years old is dead a lot of times.
Roy: If you’re just now learning the stuff from three years ago…
Derek: Yeah. If you want a go programming language, you could probably find that in Academy, you’d have a hard time finding that at the major university.
It was also a way to do that. Then there are other things where maybe there are things people like but they’re not things that any university would really do.
Maybe I’m really into geocaching but I don’t know how it works. Somebody wants to give a geocaching workshop to show how geocaching works and go out and do an adventure on it, or do something.
It’s also to help provide those learning opportunities that a traditional institution would not be able to provide you.
Jade: What about Business?
Derek: Business, that’s the entrepreneurship one. It’s everything that is involved in supporting business.
When Gangplank came about, it was really a bunch of small business owners that put it together. One of the things that we really felt was we were getting a lot of support from each other. A big part of the business initiative is a mentoring program.
One of the programs inside of the business initiative is mentoring, which provides a number of opportunities to be paired with people who’ve been there and done that, and help support you in moving your business forward.
It also has programs whether it be start‑up weekends, lean start‑up camps, you name it, we use to say, “Hey, I have an idea, how do I take an idea into some form of implementation”? To pitch nights. “Hey, I’ve already got a product, how do I go about seeing how it stacks up to other products”?
Anything that would help you, basically, either start a business, grow a business, evolve a business. It’s everything from, “I have an idea,” and “How do I get moving,” to, “Hey, I’ve got an existing business, how do I grow it, or how do I get to a stage where I can sell it”?
Anything in between is really involved there. Anything about moving a particular business forward, or supporting a business owner would fall under the business initiative.
Jade: Health is next.
Roy: This one seems to be all about if Academy is about improving your mental capacity, Health would be about improving your physical self.
Jade: I think even more so than that it’s the whole person. Your physical, your mental, your emotional. Really taking the whole person into account.
Derek: Yeah, and it’s a lot about lifestyle. It’s trying to integrate, if you look at the programs around Gangplank Health, they’re generally are things that try to either promote awareness of, hey, maybe I could make some better lifestyle choices. Or they’re things that try to build patterns in you that become native, good, healthy choices.
A great program we have within Gangplank Health is the Gangplank Mile. Where, hey, you’ve got a bunch of people working in a space, sedentary, at a computer all day long, and every day at a certain time somebody gets up and says, “Hey, I’m going on the Gangplank Mile.”
You walk a quick mile, it takes 20 minutes or less. You come back. You got out from underneath your chair. You got to socialize with some other people.
What it’s trying to basically build in is it’s not healthy to sit in a chair for four, to six, to eight hours at a time without getting out and getting there. As part of that, it doesn’t have to be a hard‑core physical work out.
You could go have a good conversation. You could still be doing business, but not be doing it necessarily in your chair or behind a desk. So it’s trying to create those kind of lifestyle awareness pieces.
Everything from eating, to true, hardcore fitness to small lifestyle changes, as well as mental thinking. How do I deal with problem people in my life? How do I deal with…some of those overlap.
We see a lot of times initiatives overlap, where almost every initiative we have ends up having classes that are Academy classes. You get a lot of overlap.
Jade: Let’s skip over junior, come back to that one at the end, because it’s very different than the rest. Let’s talk about labs. Labs is really looking at the maker movement. Focusing on 3D printing and laser cutters, and Arduino…
Roy: It’s a lot about making things. I don’t even think it has to be a physical something. Just making.
Derek: A lot of the computer science stuff that’s in here as well. Which, early on it was really truly maker space, making stuff, but a lot of stuff, then, has started to come in after the fact. Whether it be a book club on how to be a better engineer?
Anything that is around trying to learn how to make things, whether they be digital things or whether they be physical things, the act of actual making is where lab sits. There’s a fairly large science component involved in that as well.
Jade: Also, had a lot of hacking. Hacking a quad copter, or hacking some different things. Making regular things do things they weren’t necessarily intended to do.
Roy: I think everybody is capable of coming up with awesome ideas, but everybody is also capable of making them if they are provided with the right support. Ideas have no value unless you execute them.
Derek: It’s really across the board. Tonight there was a science pub quiz here at Gangplank where a bunch of scientists got together and were having, basically, drinking, having trivia around science quiz ‑‑ a trivial pursuit for science nerds.
It’s embracing science and technology, and making and hacking, and all of those things and really trying to breathe that culture in. It’s about trying to create that hacker ethos within Gangplank, comes out of a labs initiative.
Jade: Studios is next. Probably one of our most misunderstood initiatives. We started a lot around music, but expanded to really encompass all of the creative arts.
Derek: Yes, all the studio arts, so whether it be sculpture, whether it be…
Jade: Painting, photography…
Derek: Painting, photography. You can probably hear a background noise. There’s an improvisation group literally happening next to the studio. All the giggle and laughter and yelling you hear is an improvisation group doing some improvisation training. It really is every art form. We got comedians that come in, you name it…
Derek: …The podcast studio that we’re doing right here is all part of the studio. We’ve got videographers.
Roy: [inaudible 11:22] is a makeshift green screen.
Derek: There’s some argument sometimes between the initiatives, so if I’m a crafter, is that part of Studios or is that part of Labs? Because technically, I’m making something physical because I’m needing but it’s…
Roy: There’s so much overlapping and so much a selected science that you mentioned earlier. Is that part of Labs or is that part of Academy?
Derek: Right. So we try not to be so particular, we try to say “Choose a primary channel to put it in.” But ultimately it’s going to probably bleed over and things like Academy and Business tend to cover a lot of them.
If I’m going at making something and now I want to turn it into business is part of that business? If we have a class on how to take your physically made goods and turn into a business on Etsy, the art…Is it a Studios thing? Is it a Lab thing? Is it a Business thing? Or is it an Academy thing? It’s probably all of those things.
Jade: Part of our ethos is collaboration. Those categories don’t exist to exclude each other, they’re there to help each other out. They are there to reflect…these are the things that we believe need to be happening, around a Gangplank community.
Derek: When we’re talking about these things, these things all are symbiotic to..they all are required to really change an economy and change a place. That’s what it’s really about, it’s the infrastructure.
The example I just gave “Let’s give a class on how to take your homemade product and sell it and make a living out of it.” If we don’t have the promotion infrastructure for classes that Academy has created, how do you get people to attend that class?
If you don’t have the classroom to teach it in, where do you teach it? It’s the infrastructure that’s created for Academy helps make that happen. But at the same time, if you’ve got a bunch of people making things and wanting to learn “How do I make a business out of it,” now you’ve created an audience to have that particular class.
If you don’t have somebody who’s business savvy, that can say “Hey, this is how you take that” and you don’t have a strong business program, who do you have teach the class? All of these things play well together, so that you can have much more of all the programming happen, because now the programming is not siloed by each one of these things.
We see the problem with so many either co‑working spaces or incubators or initiatives is they’re so siloed, you might find something that’s a really great maker house, but it has gotten no business sense and it’s got no ability to teach classes on it.
It’s got no ability to have experts in health or another area. Or you might see a really great business incubator, but they have no access to actually create physical things or they have no ability to teach. I think one thing we’re trying to say is we really need to be cross‑functional in that.
We really need to be able to say…We need people that are able to do the full stack, so that we can offer programming that nobody else can offer, because they only have access to one or two of those things, not all of those things.
Jade: We know that innovation happens when those worlds collide.
Derek: Yes. It goes back to the belief that we really think everybody is born a creator, and while we might create different things, one person might create music, another person might create scientific experiments, somebody else might create a physical good, somebody else might create a business.
Somebody else might create a new workout regimen and somebody else might create a curriculum for somebody. The reality is the process of creating is the same for everybody who creates regardless of what they are creating, and that is our common theme.
Our common theme isn’t what you create, it’s the fact that you go through a process of having to create. And that you can be inspired on…You see this all the time. A musician will watch an artist and get inspired to create new music after watching an artist create something.
Or a programmer can listen to music, or listen or watch the process of a musician creating something and be inspired to bring that back to their programming world or to their physical‑making world. It’s about how do we become muses for each other and some of that.
Jade: Let’s talk about Local. You’re pretty involved in Local, Derek.
Derek: To me Local was one that emerged after the fact. It’s that common thread of local pride in place, it’s one of the other big things around Gangplank. It’s why it’s not specifically about the place itself, the place becomes an epicenter, so to speak, of activity that happens to unlock some of this.
How do you create that beyond just the physical space? Gangplank by itself in the ether…It’s a just a small building, it’s not enough to change the community.
It starts to become ‑‑ how do you broadcast out the ethos of Gangplank to a community, as well as how do you take the awesome things that are happening in your community around education, around health, around all the initiatives, how do you start to bring those in or expose people coming through Gangplank that there is already good stuff happening in their community?
How do you help support small business? How do you help support your local library? How do you help support your local Fire and Police Department? How do you help evolve government to be more adaptable…to be dangerous?
It’s equal parts of “How do take be dangerous outside of the walls of Gangplank and outside the Gangplank community into your physical located community”? As well as “How do you take the people who are doing awesome stuff in your local community, and help expose that to the people inside of Gangplank”? It’s like the connective tissue between Gangplank philosophy and the outside world.
Jade: I know we can do a whole podcast on Junior, so let’s come back to that one in a different podcast. How do people get involved in this initiative? They might be really drawn to one of these particular things…How does somebody go about doing that?
Derek: Right now it sucks.
Jade: [laughs] I agree.
Derek: We don’t do that well. In an ideal world what’s happening is an abundance of programs are happening and all of these initiatives, then when somebody comes into a Gangplank, it’s very easy to discover the programs that they are passionate about.
They are able to partake in those and then they are able to very quickly ask “How can I help with this”? They are given their freedom and empowered instantly to be able to either create new programs that they are passionate about, or help further programs that they are interested in.
The problem right now is, in some of the Gangplanks not all of these initiatives have a lot of programming or very little programming. So people don’t even know they exist.
Or the other problem is, because we’re a non‑hierarchical structure, it’s very difficult that somebody comes in and says, “Hey, I’ve heard of about this, like, studio things. How do I get involved”? If the person doesn’t know right away like, “Hey, this is who you go to talk to about that,” they just get the shoulder shrug off, “I’m not sure,” and it dies on the vines. That’s something that we’re working about, and we’ll probably talk about in a different podcast.
The first part is getting it out, talking about this podcast that all these things exist in…If you want these in your community, if you don’t have a Gangplank, and this stuff sounds appealing to you, like, “This is how you start a Gangplank.”
If you take one of these initiatives, and you say, “This is really awesome, and I want to do that in my community,” and you start doing awesome stuff around it, and you start saying, “The really great thing is we need to be doing all these other things, and I need help because I can’t do all of these initiatives.” In reality, it’s difficult to do a single program really well, much less an initiative well, much less a Gangplank.
Which is the beauty of it, is you have to get to the point where you say, “I can’t do this shit by myself. I want my community to change. I can be a light for that change, but unless I can get other people in my community onboard with me, I can’t do this.” That’s the beauty of it. Once you get people onboard and doing it, it becomes a living organism that is really, really strong.
Jade: Awesome. Catch us on a future episode, we’ll talk to you a little bit more about Gangplank Junior, and some of the things we were doing to improve the situation. Thanks for listening.
On November 15th, 2013 Gangplank Chandler held our 4th Startup Weekend. It was full of good pitches, hard work, good food, and a lot of fun. We started off the night by welcoming back Katie Hurst as our Startup Weekend facilitator. We had 28 pitches on friday night and ended up with nine teams formed.
The ideas ranged from video games Wiblits (free mobile and online one minute, multi-player, social games) and Zombieplank (a mobile augmented reality and geolocation app to fight off zombies in Gangplank) to a medical imaging scoring system that creates a “pay relative to performance model” for insurance companies (RadiUp). We also had an educational mobile video game to help improve test scores and change the culture about learning for kids (To Learn is Human) and an online recruiting tool to help American college students find employment around the world (Campus to Compass). And a subscription-based online custom market place for audiobook enthusiasts (Audissey).
Many of our meals were donated by some of our Sponsors. Marketing Press provided breakfast each day and the coffee came from ProvisionCoffee.com. Saturday’s lunch was Gangplanks famous Startup BBQ provided by Brian LaFrance and Authority Labs. Jeff Weninger provided us with Floridino’s pizza and helped multiple teams with customer validation. As a local restaurant owner, Jeff helped Local Dish (an online and mobile application meal planning platform). And as a Chandler City Council member Jeff was able to help ForUs, an online platform to help local candidates build a custom, full-featured web, social media and donation site for their campaigns.
With Vintage 95 catering sunday night we had a packed house for the final pitches. Our judges, Eric Schedeler, Troy Busot, and Kyle Stewart had a tough decision to make to choose the winner. Cam Easy, a B2B SaaS-based software program designed to replace outdated CAM software and spreadsheets used by property management firms, took the win. Overall, it was a successful weekend. Thank you to our many sponsors and volunteers, especially Pagely.com.
We are already starting to plan the 5th Gangplank Startup Weekend. If you are interested in helping or sponsoring, contact Trish Gillam at email@example.com.
Saturday December 7th, in Downtown Chandler, the 24th annual Parade of Lights followed by the 57th Tumbleweed Tree Lighting will take place. More than 12,000 people are expected to join Mayor Jay Tibshraeny and the Chandler City Council kick off the holiday season.
The festivities begin at 4:30 p.m. with a variety of musical and dance entertainment, inflatables and fun activities for children, and visits with Santa Claus in Dr. A.J. Chandler Park. There will be pony rides, a display of unique movie-theme inspired cars, and people can get their photo taken in a life-size Human Snow Globe.
The Parade of Lights begins at 7 p.m. and this year’s parade route will start at the corner of Arizona Avenue and Frye Road. The festive floats and other entries will move north on Arizona Avenue, past Chandler City Hall and continue through the downtown area. As it reaches the north end of Dr. A.J. Chandler Park the procession will turn right on Buffalo Street, followed by another right turn onto Arizona Place. After moving along the east side of Dr. A.J. Chandler Park, the parade will end at the corner of Boston Street and Arizona Place.
At the conclusion of the parade (approximately 8 p.m.), guests are invited to gather around the Tumbleweed Tree in the center of the park on the west side of Arizona Avenue for the lighting ceremony.
PARKING AND TRAFFIC RESTRICTIONS
Guests attending the event are strongly encouraged to arrive early to find parking. There are multiple locations with free parking, including two parking garages on the east side of Arizona Avenue, and several surface lots. Due to the expanded parade route, the Chandler City Hall parking garage at Washington Street north of Frye Road will be open prior to 6:30 p.m. and re-open after 8:30 p.m. Exiting this garage will be prohibited while the Parade of Lights is taking place..
Residents are reminded that Arizona Avenue will be closed between Chandler Boulevard and Frye Road from 3:30 to 10 p.m. Frye Road will also be restricted from Arizona Avenue east to Delaware Street from 3:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Several other smaller streets in the downtown area will also be closed or restricted during the festivities.
A map showing street closures and parking options, including parking for the disabled, will be available one week prior to the event online at www.chandleraz.gov/special-events.
“Mayor Tibshraeny proves that through foresight and endurance, America’s local leaders can help overcome their community’s problems,” said Bill Wolpin, Editor, American City & County Magazine. “His story is worth sharing in the hopes that others will become inspired.”
Mayor Tibshraeny has been at the forefront of the economic development push in Chandler preserving Price Corridor. This corridor is the a major employment corridor and is attracting some of the best high wage technology jobs in the state.
It is home to the likes of Intel, Bank of America, PayPal, Microchip Technologies, Orbital Sciences, Rogers Corporation and Wells Fargo. This year, General Motors, Infusionsoft and Nationstar have moved in.
“Chandler is a leader in the region in job creation and today the Price Corridor is home to an impressive roster of companies,” said Mayor Jay Tibshraeny. “This success validates our efforts to protect the area from residential encroachment. I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish in the area as Chandler is now recognized as a premier innovation and technology hub throughout the Southwest.”
Mayor Tibshraeny is a supporter of Gangplank, Downtown redevelopment and pushing for city wide initiatives to create healthier communities, stronger neighborhoods, boost education and re-imagine ailing shopping corners.
Go Jay go! We are proud to be in Chandler and have you at the helm.
– Love Gangplank
Chandler Community Meeting Notes 11/20/2013
By: Jeremy S.
END 4:35 PM
Roy van de Water, Clayton Lengel-Zigich, Jade Meskill, and Trish Gillam discuss the Gangplank Manifesto: People over Personalities
Jade Meskill: Hello, welcome to another episode of the “Dangercast.” We are going to talk about the culture and design of Gangplank. I’m Jade Meskill.
Roy van de Water: I’m Roy van de Water.
Clayton Lengel‑Zigich: I’m Clayton Lengel‑Zigich.
Trish Gillam: I’m Trish Gillam.
Jade: We are wrapping up our principles of the Agile manifesto. No, of the Gangplank manifesto.
Jade: We just did the Agile podcast a few minutes ago. We wanted to talk about people over personalities. Who’s ever met any personalities around Gangplank?
Clayton: I think I’ve seen a few. Usually you overhear them.
Jade: You overhear them?
Jade: That’s a good point. I remember when we were talking about this. We had a lot of very strong personalities in Gangplank, especially during the early times when it was this very raw unformed thing.
What we’re really trying to get at here is that we really value all of the people of Gangplank and not just certain personality types, or certain strong personalities that were in the community itself. Really the power lies within the whole community. Have you guys run into a situation where maybe there’s a dominating personality in the room? What effect does that have on a community?
Roy: I remember we did a podcast with some guests on “Agile Weekly” where we talked about the effect of when you have a certain type of personality in a company. They tend to hire other people that are that same personality. Soon enough you have a company filled with just that personality, and you have this homogeny of opinion, and it starts halting innovation and it starts halting all this other stuff now because everybody is just the same.
Clayton: I think more than anything with the personalities, especially at Gangplank, it seems to block everyone else out. So you get the one personality, and then there’s like the acolytes that are just trying to follow along. “Well, I kind of like this personality so I’m just going to do what they want,” and it kind of squashes the creativity and some of the new ideas that might have come about.
But they ended up not coming about because that’s not what the personality, or personalities, wanted.
Jade: What do we do when personalities are starting to get in the way?
Roy: Tea Party?
Jade: [laughs] Yeah.
Roy: I think when…I’m trying to think of examples for Gangplank. But it seems like with the way that we’ve handled that, Gangplank has kind of marginalized the personalities and made it so that it doesn’t matter if you have one. Like, that’s nice and all that you think you have this persona and that you are putting on this act every time you come into the space but that doesn’t matter, we don’t care about that.
I think that has worked pretty well. Some people are obviously pretty persistent with that, and they really try and, “No, you don’t understand, I am a really awesome personality,” and they want to keep going. But emphasizing the egalitarian nature of it all…
Clayton: That’s a word that’s way outside my vocal range.
Roy: The idea that you could just pluck anyone out of the Gangplank audience so to speak, and they would be a valid person for almost any task, or any activity you were getting into. It’s not about having the right personalities to do some activity or some event or to start…have an idea. You should be able to pick anyone and ask them their opinion about this, and that’s just as valid as anyone else.
Jade: I think you’re marginalizing the strong personality who’s trying to disrupt the culture. That is something that we’ve done quite a bit, I think unintentionally. It makes me think back to when we made one of our first terrible mistakes, which was allowing people to have their own private offices.
Jade: We had some very strong personalities. That was very integral to their participation in Gangplank. They needed to have that private office and private space. We realized how anti‑collaborative that was and really how much it violated our culture, and there were people that wouldn’t give it up.
We didn’t have a good way of resolving any of that conflict at the time, but we certainly started to marginalize those people’s influence and importance. Because, really, they had marginalized themselves, they had locked themselves away from the culture itself. When it finally did come to a head, some people chose not to participate anymore because of that particular issue.
Roy: I remember that specific example. Being in that office for some reason and thinking, “Am I allowed to be here?” I don’t think I ever really thought that about Gangplank. There was never anywhere in Gangplank that I would have been and thought, “Should I be here?” That even goes for the women’s restroom.
Roy: There was a point when it was cool to go in the women’s restroom.
Jade: That’s right, we did call it restroom number two.
Roy: I never felt like that, but here I am sitting in this person’s office and it’s like, this feels weird. I’d never experienced this before.
Jade: It was very much against the spirit of what we were trying to build. How else have you dealt with difficult or interesting personalities? Oh come on, Trish, I know you’ve got some good stories. Don’t hold out on us.
Trish: I think some of it’s, as far as dealing with difficult personalities, sometimes it feels like it varies by personality. But more often than not, it feels like it’s really just like they’re trying to push whatever their personality is. It’s letting the rest of the community know that they need to also get their input.
Jade: I think a lot of times it’s tied to their agenda, right?
Trish: Right, I was actually thinking, so this kind of relates to [inaudible 06:00] agendas, as well as learning about expertise because what it all reminded me of is that it’s not just about the personality. So anybody can come in and we give you that opportunity to learn, even though you’re not an expert. So, the same kind of idea, the personality doesn’t have to be already this persona of the expert. Anybody else can come in and give that opportunity a try.
Clayton: It seems to have formed a self correcting situation by virtue of not having the idea of titles and hierarchy. Because if I were to be a personality, I would be a personality for personalities sake, but I wouldn’t have that title to go along with it.
As soon as people get sick of my bullshit, they just stop listening to me and do something else. They don’t have to listen to me because there’s nothing other than them wanting to listen to me that causes them to.
Jade: So there’s no authority to worry about.
Jade: Because it’s not like we’ve gotten rid of personalities. They definitely still exist. Gangplank is not a bland place where everybody’s afraid to be themselves. That definitely doesn’t happen. But you’re right, there’s no advantage to, I guess, embracing some of the darker side of our personalities.
Roy: Like, you’re going to climb a curtain rail out of here? The only way to do that is by getting people to actually like you and the only way to do that is by being vulnerable and your genuine self.
Jade: Right, and by participating and doing and following all the other parts of the manifesto that come into play. I think that’s the interesting thing about the manifesto. All the values really do reinforce each other. They’re very highly dependent on each other.
What do you think about…When we talk about people, lets switch to the people side of the equation…
Roy: You mean resources?
Jade: Yes, human resources.
Jade: How does Gangplank value people? What does that mean to you?
Clayton: I like what Trish was saying about anyone can come in and learn expert stuff. One of the ways I see that Gangplank values people is just by the sheer fact that literally people that just wander in off the street and they get engaged in some conversation, or they talk to somebody about something they’re interested in.
I feel like that’s a very core human type thing of seeking connection and making a connection with another person.
That’s one of the ways I think is probably the most powerful, and it’s so easy to do. I think people get so worried about coming into Gangplank, and who am I going to talk to, and what am I going to say, and do I fit in.
I’ve seen so many times when people just show up and, even their first time, and 10 minutes into it, they stumble onto some conversation the third or fourth person they made a connection with, and now they’re talking about something they really care about. I think even just having that makes such a big difference. I think that’s a great representation of the people aspect.
Trish: We were talking earlier today, it came up in the community meeting people. It seems like everyone else liked the idea of a directory, and one of the things I was pointing about with the directory of, for me with Gangplank people walk in the door and you don’t know, are they the CEO of some huge company, or are they currently without a job.
One of the cool things for me with Gangplank is that people have to choose a person. They don’t know…a few minutes have a look at their LinkedIn profile. But typically they don’t know what you’re advertising yourself as, and really people just approach you as a person They may find later that you have a certain title or you have certain assets that can help them. But from the start, it’s just a conversation with another person.
Jade: Some of the proudest moments I’ve seen is when we’ve had one guy who is mentally handicapped kind thug that lives in the rough neighborhood behind Gangplank Chandler. He came in and people were very wary of what he was doing here. But some of the more interesting personalities at Gangplank really embraced him and treated him like a real person, and tried to help him out and did a bunch of things for him.
I thought that was a really cool thing to see. That really no matter what, you don’t have to be a geek, you don’t have to have money, you don’t really have to have really anything, and people will still treat you like a real genuine human being around here.
Clayton: One of my favorite stories like that was the time when I heard there was two people about how they had to get to Tucson but their car broke down, or they didn’t have a ride or something, and they had to go that night. Someone else in the space shouted out, “Is anybody going to Tucson later?” and some random guy raises his hand. “Will you give him a ride?” the guy was like, “Sure!”
Clayton: So just stuff like that, here’s this connection. I don’t know where else you could facilitate something like that, where people wouldn’t think that you were totally nuts. But in this space, that made sense. That’s a totally legit thing to do.
Jade: Anything else on people and personalities? I think we’re going to wrap up this discussion of the values of the Gangplank manifesto. Join us next week on the Dangercast.