Avondale Labs Planning a Summer of Electronics

On Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 Gangplank Avondale’s makers gathered to brainstorm how to amp up the Avondale Labs Initiative. After a burst of ideas, we narrowed it to a “Summer of Electronics”. We are meeting again next Tuesday the 15th at 7pm to further plan this electrifying summer.

For those interested in seeing the crazy list of future ideas the group came up with, here they are:

Set up a soldering station
Meet once a month on a Saturday (maybe a youth event once a month)
Paper electronics for kids
Install fest – help those with less tech knowledge install Linux
Reach out to local neighborhood
Tear down day
Etsy Craft Party
Pinterest Party
Quad Copter night (or break that up into multiple projects and advertise each separately)
Metal work class
Amateur Radio
Furniture refinishing
HAM site
Big group projects
Simon says arduino
rockets
Movie projector – Theater night
Gunsmithing
welding
Metal milling
Cold Metal forming
metal working
Tig Welding
Jewelry Making
Brewing/distilling apparatus
Catapults
Concrete work (shaping)
Glass work
DIY Astronomy (homebuilt telescopes)
Tesla coil
Arduino/ Raspberry pi/ single board computers
Home automation
LEGO
Jacobs Ladder
Videography
Hacking
Nixie Tube
Vacuum tube amp
Aerial Photography
Drones
Technology as art
3D Printing
3d Printer mentoring
Textiles (sewing, embroidery)
woodworking
car computer
pyro
Fire
Learn to code (coding classes)
Rasberry Pi car ecc
Yoga class
Going from prototype to production
CAD Meetup
Painting class
Life Drawing
Screen printing
Upcycyling
Info dispersion
Secure communication
Networks
Traditional casting methods
Mento fountains
outreach event
community building events
robots
inventors club
Theremin
laser cutter/ engraver
Make a thon

Summer Outreach and Communication Internships Available

Gangplank Outreach and Communication Intern

Gangplank is seeking energetic, fun, and creative Outreach and Communication interns to help share the Gangplank story and engage local residents. Gangplank is committed to providing excellent educational opportunities. This unpaid position will provide interns with experience in outreach and communications for a global nonprofit while supporting the creation of vibrant communities. Interns will have opportunities to learn and use a variety of skills including event planning, social media marketing, writing press releases, photography, and video. Summer internships begins June 5, 2014.

As part of telling Gangplank’s story, interns will also have opportunities to explore 3D printing, electronics, entrepreneurship, design, software development, community development, and economic development.

This position supports all of Gangplank’s Phoenix Metro locations. Currently we have locations in Chandler and Avondale. Interns can choose to be based out of either location. Travel to events throughout the Phoenix Metro area is required.

Job Responsibilities:

• Organize, attend, and or participate in events related to Gangplank initiatives.

• Create fun and interactive displays for outreach tables.

• Create, update, and respond to social media and blog posts.

• Create videos and other multimedia communications

• Craft and distribute press releases as needed.

• Performs related duties as needed.

Qualifications: 

• Must have a strong desire to learn.

• Excellent communication skills.

• Energetic and creative individuals who are capable of making decisions on their own.

To apply please submit your resume  to Trish@gangplankhq.com no later than May 15, 2014.

RockIT Bootcamp – Launch Your IT Career

 

rockIT BootCamp

 

This is great opportunity at an inaugural run of a new program.  The first cohort will have all tuition costs waived.  If you have thought about becoming an Web Developer, this is your chance.

Inaugural Class Begins April 2014 [ Apply Now ]

What is IT?

RockIT is an immersive, 12-week bootcamp in web development. The full-time program focuses on building hands-on skills using real world examples and projects. RockIT teaches the skills that entry level web development professionals need to succeed in a career in one of today’s technology jobs.

Learn from experienced instructors – web developers who are working closely with local employers – so that RockIT can help meet the growing demand for front end web developers in the Metro Phoenix area.

Learn:

  • HTML5
  • JavaScript
  • CSS3
  • jQuery
  • PHP
  • MySQL

CURRICULUM

You will learn something new every day. You will write code every day. Everything that is included in the curriculum is relevant and important to starting a career in web development. Industry experts have created an integrated curriculum that leads you through the theory but more importantly the practice. You will work individually, in pairs and in small teams to solve problems, crack the code and build real world web applications. You will work much harder and for much longer than you think.

COMPLETION

Everything you have learned comes together in final phase of the bootcamp as you demonstrate proficiency in web development skills through an individual project and a team project. What you have learned prepares you for the first step in a career including confidence, skills and knowledge. The applications you have created build a portfolio of work that you will be proud of and able to take with you.

CAREERS

Embedded throughout the program are a series of career exploration related activities. The curriculum includes networking events, peer level meetups, job searching skills, resume writing and interview techniques to add to the body of web development work you have completed. A career fair as part of the final phase of the bootcamp enables you to meet with local web development agencies and employers.

Chandler Community Meeting Notes 3/12

NOTE: We haven’t regularly held meetings since the new year due to a lack of need. Meetings can be called at the regular time by anyone, however, and we encourage people who need the community’s engagement to request meetings as needed.  Today’s meeting was held to inform the community of a few notable happenings in recent weeks.

Meeting Started at 4:02PM

Startup Weekend Chandler, hosted by Gangplank, announced for July 2014

Eileen K (LilliMedia) proudly announced that she is aiding Troy B (Athlinks), as coordinator, in planning and promoting our next Startup Weekend.  By popular demand, the weekend moves back to the summer months and will be held July 18th – 20th, 2014.  Expect Troy to begin asking individuals and companies for support in the coming days.

Maker Faire coming to Chandler by DCCP, Gangplank, Tech Shop, and ASU

Jenn L (DCCP) announced that the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership received support to host an official, branded Maker Faire.  They are looking to either piggyback the event on an October 2014 event or host it the weekend of Jan 15th, 2015 as a one-year anniversary of Tech Shop and the Mayor’s declaration of January 15th as “Maker Day” in Chandler.  They will be seeking support and sponsors and will keep us updated.

New Brownbag Coordinator Kristin of Jacob’s Well, Needs Support

First off, thanks again to Hiring Solved’s Jenny who carefully stewarded Brownbags for the latter half of 2013.  And huge thanks to our newest Brownbag coordinator, Kristin L of Jacob’s Well. Our schedule, due in part to some uncertainty during the passing of the baton, has us with only about 1 month of brownbags scheduled.  Like always, the community needs to look through their contacts to help her with some speaker ideas.

Pizza on Hacknights Back thanks to Hiring Solved

Hiring Solved is graciously sponsoring Hack Night pizza again!  Next time to you see Shon B or Trevor O of Hiring Solved, you should give them a high-five or a hug.  They officially sponsor pizza but will need help picking it up.  Hans M (LilliMedia) volunteered to assist with pickup.  Trish G (Gangplank) suggested all of us to keep an eye out for pizza delivery by 6PM if you’re here, and if its not here, go look for Trevor!

Discussion on Vending Machines

Bonanza Educational continues to support the vending machines, both by financially backing them when the fund runs low and also keeping them stocked.  They’ve been ordering and stocking them for two years this month and managing the finances for one year last month.

Jeremy S (Bonanza Ed) reports that sales average around $300 / month, up dramatically from $125/month before the Red Bull Machine was restocked in August and a “Vending” vinyl sign was made and posted by Kristi (DCCP).  The machines require a 6-8 week purchase cycle.

We (Gangplank) own the Coke machine and are lent the Red Bull Machine by Red Bull USA.  Repairs on the Coke machine are on us, and the recent issues with Coke being vended in place of people’s actual selection was just fixed.  Give Greg T (MarketingPress) a high-five or hug for donating $115 to cover the costs of the repair.

V8 VFusion juice drinks will be back in stock shortly, Jeremy is just waiting for the Hanson’s Naturals slot to empty.  Then, Hanson’s Naturals will be left out of stock until the San Pellegrino Blood Orange runs out.  The San Pellegrino drinks were a special purchase made possible by a Costco Rebate and we simply cannot afford them after the current supply, purchased on the discount, runs out.

Some members of the community asked for a few changes to the selection and Jeremy explained that it has taken over two years of refining the selection to get us to the current assortment.  Many of the drinks are enjoyed by many, where, in the past, some options took up an entire slot just for a few fans of that option.  While he is is confident in the current selection, ideas may be brought to Jeremy offline.

Brian S (Bonanza Ed) asks the community permission to install a table-top snack vending machine and stock it with a 50%/50% supply of healthy and yummy snacks.  He said that Bonanza will support these similarly to the soft drinks. Ideas for things to include Kashi bars, apple chips, various candy, nuts, and chips.  The community welcomed it with a verbal vote.

Jeremy keeps a small amount of change at GP for people who want to turn a $10 or $5 into $1’s to use in the vending machines.  If he is at his desk, he welcomes anyone to stop by and get change if they need it.

Call for Members that Need Keys, Alarm Code Changes

Jeremy (Bonanza Ed) requested that members needing alarm codes, alarm code changes, or new keys please reach out to him this week offline.

“Magic Space” Not Magic Anymore

Jeremy (Bonanza Ed) updated the community on the status of 250’s Suite 3 & 5, our neighbors, or what we lovingly called the Magic Space.  The lease holder of the space was officially evicted last week and the property’s receiver is confident the new space will be leased to a new entity in the near future.  Potential new tenants are touring the space.  If you see them, make them feel welcome!

All Gangplank property was successfully removed from Magic Space to our knowledge, but let us know if you think we forgot something.  Chris L (CSI) updated us on events scheduled for the former Magic Space are now in the GP Main Space until 260 opens, notably:

  • Jacob’s Well Church now meets regularly on Sunday mornings.  You’re welcome to be in the space when they’re here, especially if you wish to join their worship.
  • Desert Code Camp speaker’s dinner and after party will be here Friday, April 4th and Saturday, April 5th in the evening.  They will be responsible for moving furniture out and back, but its recommended you clean up your desks.
  • Southeast Valley .NET User’s Group will now be in here every 4th Thursday starting 3/27.  Over the years, their group grew to 50+.  They are responsible for moving chairs and furniture.   If you’re here expect it to be busy.

260 Construction Update

Trish G (Gangplank HQ) updated everyone on the status of the 260 construction.  Project is over budget and we will need to assist in a few fundraisers.  The second floor is going up this week and next so watch out for some major changes to happen fast!  The construction crews sees a completion by late April to early May.  Yes… less than 90 days!

GP Jr.

Josh S (Bonanza Ed) discussed his desire to lead a renewed effort into Gangplank Jr.  Chris S also said he wants to get things going too.  A last minute idea of a table-top gaming event, in honor of the annual table-top gaming day, to be held on April 5, was suggested.  Discussion will move offline.

Gangplank Booth at Mesa Maker Faire

Eileen K (LilliMedia) and Trish G (Gangplank HQ) discussed our last-minute involvement in the Mesa Maker Faire in Downtown Mesa next week.  They acknowledged that it is an awkward weekend but that they need help in the form a one-three people to staff the booth and share GP and its maker programs.  They do need help, so please help if you can!  The event is auxiliary to the spark! Festival in Mesa, where Bonanza Ed will be running a big booth, so feel free to stop by there too.

General Announcements

  • St Patrick’s Day at Murphy’s Law 3/17.  If you want to go check in with DCCP.
  • Beer and BBQ Festival 3/21. DCCP also has tickets.  Performances by Blues Traveller.
  • Chandler Jazz Festival 4/4 & 4/5.  DCCP has tickets.

Meeting Ended at 4:35PM

Welcome Sean Duggan, City of Chandler Police Chief

Sean Duggan

Sean Duggan

As many of you know Chandler Police Chief Sherry Kiyler retired late last year. After a nationwide search, the city announced in late November that Sean Duggan would be the new Police Chief for the city. Myself and Jennifer Lindley had the pleasure of spending some time getting to know Sean, who reached out to Gangplank and Downtown Chandler Community Partnership as an applicant because he wanted to know more about our community. Sean is a class act that gets a connected community is the right place to start with public safety.

Sean is a 27 year veteran from the Scottsdale Police Department. Duggan is just the kind of leadership we need in Chandler and the kind of collaborator that brings all sorts of new possibilities for Gangplank to think outside of the box. Join us in welcoming him as you see him around.

TechShop Chandler Grand Opening

TechShop Chandler Grand Opening

Saturday, 1/18/2014
11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
TechShop Chandler
Join TechShop Chandler for their action-packed grand opening celebration: Saturday, January 18 from 11 AM to 4 PM.

Take a tour of their cutting edge facility, located within ASU’s Chandler Innovation Center, and prepare to be inspired. See what members are working on, chat with successful community makers, try some hands-on activities, and watch some of their machines in action! They will be serving barbecue burgers and dogs with sides and sodas from 12 – 2 PM. Participate in these great hands-on activities:

  • Help build a state-of-the-art 3D structure in the parking lot with Brian Korsedal of Arcology Now! 11AM -2PM
  • Battle with SumoBots in the famous Gearena
  • Compete to race Sphero, part ball and part robot, through an ever changing obstacle course

Guests can also look forward to demonstrations and displays:

  • “Meet the Makers” including reps from Local Motors, SITGREEN furniture, local incubator Desarrollo, and more. Talk about the latest happenings in the Maker world, how this movement is changing the world and how you can be a part of it 12-2PM
  • Dream Consultant help desk – talk to their fantastic staff about your upcoming projects so that they can can help you build your dreams!
  • Meet their amazing instructors as they demonstrate equipment and give you a taste of what classes are like at TechShop
  • Little Makers hands-on area
  • Member spotlights
  • Photo booth

Enter our raffle to win cool prizes:

  • 3-Pack of Maker Books, including The Maker Movement Manifesto, Zero to Maker, and Makers: The New Industrial Revolution
  • 3-Month TechShop Membership
  • 3-Pack of Choice Classes

If you are a current TechShop member and would like to show off your project at the grand opening, please send an e-mail to education.ch@techshop.ws with a photo of your project, a photo of yourself, a description of your project, and a short bio to be featured next to your project. Submissions due by Monday, January 13, 2014.

The grand opening is free and fun for the entire family! You do not need to RSVP for this event, just show up Saturday between 11AM and 4PM. Bring your family and friends! TechShop Chandler is located at 249 E. Chicago St.,Chandler, AZ. If you need more information, email us at info.ch@techshop.com or call 480-327-0820. Special offers and membership discounts will be available throughout the day.

ASU Chandler Innovation Center Grand Opening

College is Expensive. It Pays To Be Our Neighbor! Learn about the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program and how it can save you tuition dolars

GRAND OPENING

You are cordially invited to the grand opening of the ASU Chandler Innovation Center, an engineering and technology-based research hub featuring TechShop Chandler.This ribbon-cutting ceremony will be one-of-a-kind, so you don’t want to miss it! ASU President Michael Crow; Mitzi Montoya, vice provost and dean of ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation; Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny; and Jim Newton, chairman and founder for TechShop will use a plasma cutter to saw into the special steel ribbon to commemorate this celebration.

When: Friday, January 17, 2014
Where: 249 E. Chicago Street, Chandler, AZ 85225

Events:

  • 8:30am: Registration
  • 8:45am: Program begins
  • 9:30am: Program ends, City to unveil special gift
  • 9:30-11:30am: Tours of Chandler Innovation Center and TechShop

Visit

For information on additional TechShop grand opening events on Saturday, January 18, please visit TechShop Chandler. 

Visit Visit Visit

 

eBooks, Magazines, Music and more at Chandler Public Library

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?

Copyright City of Chandler

Copyright City of Chandler

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.

Chandler Community Meeting Notes 12/11

Community Meeting Notes 12/11/2013
By: Jeremy S.

START 4:11

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.

END: 4:35PM

 

Dangercast #11 – Code For America

Jade Meskill, Derek Neighbors, Nicole Neditch, and Luke Norris discuss Code For America.

Transcript

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.

[crosstalk]

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.

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