Digital Storytellers Meetup & Creative Bootcamp

Who: Ita Ema (View from Above Entertainment) is the mastermind facilitator for anyone interested in crafting their story—whether it is for a business website, blog, comedy gig, feature film or fantasy novel—you see there is no end to genre or medium; all are welcome.
What: The meetup is part instruction, part project-sharing, part accountability and support group for telling the story that entrepreneurs and creatives need and want to tell. The Creative Bootcamp is a 5-hour ‘Get it Done!’ workshop to follow through on creative story-telling projects.
Where: Gangplank, Chandler (usually the conference room)
When: Meetup is every other Monday at 6-8 p.m. Bootcamp is approximately once a month. Check the Gangplank Calendar and newsletter for upcoming schedule.
How much: This is social capital at its best! A valuable investment of time for PEOPLE to PARTICIPATE in LEARNING how to craft their story and DO their storytelling with BOLDNESS along with a COMMUNITY of creatives who COLLABORATE, and Oh! happen to build FRIENDSHIP in the process. (= no monetary fee)

Urbie's blank slates

Urbie’s blank slates

This meetup group brings together an eclectic bunch. We have our regulars, we have our once-in-awhilers, and we always have newbies. And that doesn’t mean they are new to story-telling necessarily, but in some cases new to the craft and this group. Beth, a voice coach, is working on a musical she wrote many years ago decided to pull it out of the attic storage box and re-write it digitally. Ariel who is a programmer, musician and former firefighter shuffles around her many projects including an epic fantasy novel. I cannot count all the comedy guys who bring in their projects, one of which is a story about the comedians themselves.

I bounce around to a different project every meetup, but my first “Get ‘r Done” project was a video I created for a non-profit’s AZ Gives campaign. I wanted to raise money for a “real restroom” at this non-profit’s recycling facility. I brought my ideas to the group one night about a year ago and we had fantastic fun brainstorming and flushing it out—no pun intended! I then narrowed the story down and created a script, did some on site shooting. I brought the footage in for our fearless leader, Ita, to help me with editing software in the Gangplank computer lab and I recorded the voice-over in Gangplank’s podcasting room. It’s not the project per se that sealed the deal for my commitment this storytelling group, it is the honest feedback and collaborative spirit of participation for my own projects, as well as for those of others’. When I see their stories come together and witness the progress they make, it’s a beautiful thing.
Learning the story arch and the beats for fun and fiction is in some sense a no-brainer, yet it is quite the ‘Ah-ha!’ moment when you see a story is crafted into a business plan. We have numerous entrepreneurs creating stories for video and audience-building on their websites and online marketing. April is a long-time Gangplanker and WordCamp 2013 Director plugged in her Powerhouse Posting Process online courses through Made Better Studio.
Self-assigned homework spurs participants onward between meetups and that has organically grown into the ‘part support group’ aspect. Marissa pounded out the story arch for her online tutorials for home-schooling parents and shot the video after one visit to the meetup. BOOM!

During Bootcamp it's 4 X 45 minute blocks of nose to grindstone

During Bootcamp it’s 4 X 45 minute blocks of nose to grindstone

Others of us struggle to fit creative time and energy into our daily or weekly schedules and we’ve found ways to hold each other accountable along with sharing tips and tricks—everything from apps to track and time productivity, to inspirational videos, to online script writing and animation tools. Ariel attributes her writing 15,000+ words in the last few weeks to the learning, camaraderie, and support to Digital Storytellers. Rob, eventually hammered out his Bottom Five Comedy material between meetups and says, “The Digital Storytellers group helped me narrow my focus so that I could complete my first short film script, get my website up and running, and begin a feature. Without Ita and the group, I’d still be stuck with a million random story fragments.”
Even our fearless leader finds himself progressing on otherwise top candidates for procrastination projects such as a feature-length script, Full Field the Basics video series and now a crowdfunding campaign story. Ita says, “Sometimes you don’t know where to start, but it you can just take the first step that’s enough to get the ball rolling.” And he certainly has helped us do just that and more!

Urbie meets success: a finished product in a new medium

Urbie meets success: a finished product in a new medium

The fourth Digital Storytellers Creative Bootcamp was On Sunday, March 15. While all participants experienced successful outcomes, newcomer Urbie ( @urbie ) found out he could be a pirate at Gangplank via #tlap (Teach Like a Pirate Twitter chat), so long story, short teaching pirates connected to Gangplank pirates on the app. Urbie came into the bootcamp with a laptop, a phone and a tablet along with a rainbow of sticky notes and pens. But more importantly he came in with true ‘Arrrrrrrr’ spirit! He had never tried comic strips before, but wanted to #BeDangerous and give it a try. He started from zero, added an idea and ended up meeting his goal of a publish-ready strip. I’m inspired!

Code Sisters: Closing the Gender Gap

I am happy to announce that Saturday, May 23rd will be the OFFICIAL kickoff of “Code Sisters,” a monthly, structured tutorial/workshop session for women learning to code. Each month, from 9:00 am to noon, we will teach a beginner level web development topic in a workshop/tutorial format. After a lunch break, there will be time for practice, project work, and mentoring.

These sessions are geared to help participants procure valuable skills, as well as gain the confidence to form their own software projects and join the hacker community at large. We expect women who complete these courses will be able to share their own software projects at events like the weekly Hack Nights that Gangplank hosts on Wednesdays.

In the meantime, the more advanced or adventurous have an open invitation to Hack Night and the “Code Purple” lounge, where Code Sisters and their “bros” can network, connect with mentors and project partners, and practice their skills.

If you know of a woman who might be interested in the group, please let her know about it. If you have skills and knowledge you want to share, please contact Ariel Strong <> or one of the people listed below.

We are actively looking for mentors – male or female – and would welcome your input and help as we put together future sessions.

Help from the Pirate Ship

From talking to ‘Plankers the last two months, I’ve gathered lots of ideas on how to structure an initiative to get more women into coding or just tech in general. I’ve heard many (sometimes opposite!) opinions on how to approach putting a Gangplank group together and lined up a number of potential mentors.

Thank you all. I appreciate the input, especially how to decide on a language and start learning as well as links to resources that we can use.

In fact, the response was so positive with so many good ideas, I wasn’t sure where to begin.

Opening up Code Sisters (unofficially operating at Gangplank since January) to a wider audience seemed like a logical place to start, but we needed a more structured format.

The dilemma was solved on Saturday, April 25th, after a Railsbridge Workshop for women hosted by Infusionsoft. Five Gangplankers attended the introductory Ruby on Rails event – Catherine Leyen, Eileen Kane, Ariel Strong, Trish Gillam, and Christopher Murray (who provided extraordinary technical support!).

There was consensus among Gangplank’s attendees that the format used for Railsbridge would be a perfect fit for Code Sisters’ purposes. The environment was nurturing and proved fruitful for learning a new skill. All of the women left with a decent understanding of the Ruby framework, thanks to the support of the team of volunteers, mentors and organizers who worked with each sub-group of the 50+ attendees.

On top of having a solid structure, Railsbridge provides their coursework online for free. It covers a variety of languages (Ruby on Rails, Javascript, CSS, HTML) and we intend to take full advantage. Soo…

The Shape of Things to Come…

This is only the beginning. We really don’t know how things will take shape, and we will adapt as we go. We want you to join us in this adventure and maybe eventually even steer the ship. In the spirit of Gangplank, we will be dangerous. Yaarrrgh!


The People That You Meet Each Day

I spied him over the top of my monitor. He’d walked in well enough, but I could tell by his confused look that he had no idea what to do now that he was inside. This happens frequently. I’d seen that befuddled look on the faces of Gangplank newcomers countless times.

As a Gangplank veteran, I consider it my duty to make visitors feel welcome. Plus, I needed a break from writing marketing copy.

“Today’s subject is Software-defined Networking, boys and girls!” I’d loudly announced to the 15 odd entrepreneurs working out of Gangplank as I arrived earlier. (The crowd had returned my excitement with odd looks and loud groans.)

“Hi, how’s it going?” I asked as I rose from behind my monitor and walked towards the visitor. Perhaps he was an entrepreneur, looking for a home.

He tells me his name, Todd. He wants to know how much is it to use a computer here. He’d like to download a large file that someone sent him via email.

“You don’t pay anything to use the facilities here,” I tell him. “At least not monetarily.”

His confused look returns.

“Walk with me,” I tell him, laughing to myself. “We’ll get you squared away.”

We walk past the hot desks, large tables with office chairs where anyone who wants to can come in, set up a laptop and get some work done.

“There’s no charge here,” I repeat as we walk. “Because payment is in social capital.”

“Uhhhhhhhh-huh,” he says, in that tone that says “I have no idea what you are saying.”

We walk past the 3D printers that line the back half of the main Gangplank workspace. I continue giving Todd an introduction.

“Basically, if you find Gangplank is a space you like working from, and the people here a community you find valuable, all that is asked to use Gangplank’s resources is that you find a way to contribute something back. What you contribute is up to you.”

He’s not from around here, he says. He’s passing through town on tour. Just wants to use a computer, “How much?” he asks.

I shake my head and chuckle.

We continue straight down the hall, past the free library, buzzing conference rooms, and podcast studio. Finally, we arrive at the Gangplank computer lab. He seems a very nice guy, about 50 years old I’d guess, wearing glasses, a gently worn pair of blue jeans, and respectable short sleeved dress shirt.

I help him log on to one of the eight iMac computers in the lab, all freely available to the public. I make small talk while he accesses his email.

“So what is this file?”

“It’s a pilot for a TV show that I’m in. ” he says.

“Uhhhhh-huh” I say using the same tone he had earlier. An actor, just about to make his big break. Yeah, right.

Todd downloads the video. Over the next 45 minutes I am amazed and delighted at his talent. As we watch, we talk about life, swap stories about our kids, and generally just get to be pals.

The people you meet at Gangplank are random and diverse – and always interesting. I love this place.

Todd Oliver, nationally known comedian, ventriloquist, and past performer on America’s Got Talent.


Chandler Science Spectacular

Arizona Scitech Chandler Science Spectacular

Science is on display in a way you haven’t experienced it before at the Chandler Science Spectacular. From cartoons to lava lamps and fingerprints to flight simulation, this festival connects everyday life to science through interactive, hands-on exhibits. The two day event is in Downtown Chandler and runs 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20 (A Night of Art & Science) and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21 (Science Saturday).

This year, the Science Saturday event is joined by the E.P.I.C. Fest (Explore. Play. Imagine. Create.), showcasing the Maker culture. Makers are hobbyists, tinkerers, engineers, programmers and people using new and unique technologies, as well as traditional forms of DIY.

SciTech Chandler Science Spectacular


More than 70 exhibits are on display; below are just a few examples:

Science Fiction TV Dinner: Center for Science and the Imagination at ASU Classic Warner Bros cartoon shorts about space exploration followed by a conversation with experts in Space Exploration and Animation.

Flight Simulator: Garmin Feel the power of flight with Garmin’s flight simulator

Crime Scene & Fingerprinting: City of Chandler Police Department Solve the mystery at this interactive mock crime scene, or learn how to read fingerprints when they are left as clues.

Rocket Launch: Orbital Sciences See how Orbital puts rockets into space with this hands on rocket-launching demo

Breaking Boards & Science: Sport Science of Martial Arts Who knew how fun applied physics can be? Feel the explosive power of changing acceleration or changing mass when you attempt to break plastic boards

Foam Block Building: The Arizona Science Center & First Things First Families can use giant foam blocks of all shapes to build a design they create.

Lava Lamp Creation: Primavera Online High School Kids make their own Flubber or personal Lava Lamp to learn about oil & water.
Game Truck Spaceship: Game Truck * Available 1 to 4 p.m. Travel through the solar system with game truck spaceship

Technology & the Library: Downtown Chandler Library Learn to use Zinio, featuring more than 500 multi-language magazines, along with library iPads and eReaders to access eBooks, databases, Freegal, and BookMyne.

Chandler Science Spectacular is part of the Arizona SciTech Festival, a statewide movement to promote and celebrate science in our daily lives and to earn recognition for Arizona as a science and technology hub. The Chandler Science Spectacular is sponsored by Intel, and all events are free and open to the public.



Chandler Parade of Lights and Tumbleweed Tree Lighting

You may have noticed the holiday lights are on in Downtown Chandler as they were lit during Chandler Rock the Block. However, the official holiday kick off happens Saturday December 6th as the 25th annual Parade of Lights comes down Arizona Avenue and the 58th annual lighting of the Tumbleweed Tree take place.

Tumbleweed Tree Lighting

Tumbleweed Tree Lighting

More than 12,000 people are expected to join in the festivities that start at 4:30pm. There will be a variety of musical and dance performances as well as inflatables and other other activities for children including pony rides and visists with Santa Claus. Add this year is an Ugly Sweater contest for individuals, couples and families.

The pageantry of the Parade of Lights begins at 7 p.m. and the 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 in the center of the park on the west side of Arizona Avenue for the Tumbleweed Tree lighting ceremony.

You can find more information here.


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.

Residents are reminded that Arizona Avenue will be closed between Chandler Boulevard and Frye Road from 3:30-10 p.m. Frye Road will also be restricted from Arizona Avenue east to Delaware Street from 3:30 – 10:00pm 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, is online at


Stage Schedule

4:30 p.m. – 4:50 p.m. Stacy J Dancing
5:00 p.m. – 5:20 p.m. The Dance Loft
5:30 p.m. – 5:50 p.m. Talent Team Perfoming Arts
6:00 p.m. – 6:20 p.m. Ugly Sweater Contest
7:00 p.m. Parade
8:00 p.m. (approx.) Tree Lighting Ceremony with Mayor Jay Tibshraeny
8:40 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Studio 3 Performing Arts Academy


A Community Tradition

This unique Chandler tradition began in 1957, when Chandler resident Earl Barnum raised the idea of a tumbleweed tree after he saw a similar one in Indiana built out of cone-shaped chicken wire with pine boughs stuck in the holes. Many members of the community helped create the first tree in Chandler using tumbleweeds that they gathered from around town. Little did these folks know that they were the first to do such a thing and that it would continue as an annual Christmas tradition from then on. In fact, Chandler is the only city in the southwestern United States that has such a tree.

How is it done?

First, members of the City’s Park Operations Division gather tumbleweeds from the outskirts of the City. With Chandler’s rapid growth and development, fewer stretches of empty land are within the City limits, which makes it harder to find tumbleweeds in large quantities. So, the Park crews must start collecting the tumbleweeds earlier each year. Nearly 1,000 tumbling tumbleweeds are collected each year and are used to adorn a 25-foot tall wire frame.

Then, the tumbleweeds are sprayed with 25 gallons of white paint, 20 gallons of flame retardant and dusted with 65 pounds of glitter. The tree is later adorned with approximately 1,200 holiday lights that give it a spectacular look, day or night. The lighting of the Tumbleweed Tree draws a large crowd, with more than 12,000 expected to watch the Mayor and members of the City Council flip the switch to light this magnificent sight. The Tumbleweed Tree Lighting Ceremony and the Parade of Lights (starting at 7 p.m.) help to bring our community together to kick-off the holidays.

4 Issues Surrounding Workforce Development for Technology Companies

The Arizona Technology Council released a report from a survey that the University of Phoenix and the Technology Councils of North America recently did on Software Development Competencies to better understand workforce development issues in software development occupations. Asking the following Questions. (Three Roles: Mobile, Application and Web Developer)

1. What is the primary reason for the reported talent shortage in the software development sector (quantity or quality)?
83% of respondents indicated there is clearly a talent shortage.
51% stated the most significant cause is the local market does not have an adequate supply of available works entering the field (quantity).
27% stated the most significant cause is available workers do not have adequate skills and education to occupy the roles (quality).

Soft Skills

2. What 3 to 5 most critical skills must individuals have to perform effectively in there high-demand software development roles in the next 2 to 4 years?
The majority of respondents saw User Interface Design, Architecture and Java as key skills in the next 2 to 4 years.
Programming, Web Design and Data Warehousing were seen as necessary skills for all roles.
88% of the respondents felt “Soft Skills” were equally or more important than technical skills.

3. What education and certifications will be required by individuals in the next 2 to 4 years to preform successfully in three high-demand software roles?
45% felt less than a bachelor’s degree was necessary for web/mobile development.
Only 7% felt greater than a bachelor’s degree was necessary.
Less than 30% felt industry certifications were valuable.

4. What are employers doing to cope with future anticipated skill gaps in three high-demand software development roles?
Only 69% of employers are doing something about it.
68% plan on conducting internal training
64% plan on offering internships
53% plan on retraining employees
51% plan on network building

Report summary: UOPX-TECNA Software Development Survey Results.

City of Mesa Open Data Road Show

The City of Mesa and Code for America are hosting an Open Data regional event on September 4th. The benefits of Open Data range from enhancing government performance to increasing public participation. Show up and explore the process and outcomes of implementing data driven initiatives.


In Attendance:

  • City officials who have adopted open data policies (Phoenix, Tucson)
  • Start-ups/entrepreneurs who use open data, creating new job opportunities.
  • Community groups actively developing projects that affect the city and it’s residents (eg: transit, health, park apps).
  • ASU faculty and staff researchers who benefit by and contribute to open data sets (eg: budget, water usage).
  • Citizens!

At past events people walked away energized and committed to implement new practices, host hackathons and develop community partnerships. It is an opportunity to share, ask questions and learn from other departments, partner cities, start-ups and community members.

“I thought the open data roadshow was very informative and inspirational! I thoroughly enjoyed it ” -Tony Heinrichs, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Infrastructure/Public Works, City of San Diego


  • Bringing the best of open data practices, policies and experiences to cities.
  • Educating a government audience to the concept, values, and opportunities of open data.
  • Consulting and troubleshooting how government staff can pursue open data within their own agencies.
  • Sharing resources and best practices to support governments interested in implementing open data.

The Logistics:
Open Data Roadshow: Mesa
Thursday September 4th 8:30am – 1:00pm
Mesa Arts Center – 1 E Main St, Mesa, AZ 85201
Free of Charge with breakfast and lunch provided!

RSVP Here:

More info here:

When Arizona Reads, Arizona Thrives.

Summer Reading

Help Arizona Put Reading First! Read 20 minutes everyday this summer.

5 Things you can do to increase summer reading:

  1. Sign up the whole family for the library’s Fizz, Boom, Read!  summer reading program at Chandler Public Library.
  2. Ask your librarian for suggestions of great books to read with your child.
  3. Use the “Find a Book” tool at to find books that match a developing reader’s reading level.
  4. Set a goal of reading 20 minutes everyday.  For very young children and struggling readers, the 20 minutes can be spread throughout the day.
  5. Make reading fun.

Exciting new way to track summer reading.

Many Arizona libraries are piloting an exciting new way to track summer reading.  Read, play games and do other fun activities to earn achievement badges online.

Dig deeper to make a reader.

Ask questions about the stories you read together: “Why do you think [the character] did that?”

Finding Your Passion and Purpose

To be a successful person in anything in life it helps if you have Passion, Purpose & Perseverance. Perseverance is defined as steadfastness in doing something despite opposition, difficulty or delay in achieving success. Is it is easy to persevere when you know your Purpose and have a Passion about it. Passion is the gasoline in the vehicle and your Purpose is the steering wheel that has set the course for the end destination. Join with others for a fun night exploring what your Passion & Purpose is at Gangplank Chandler.

Please share! Clare Rhoads will bring her knowledge of human behavior and awesome facilitation skills. Please bring your own thought provoking questions that have helped you to gain knowledge on this topic. After the class, people will be present to answer questions about volunteer opportunities available in your community. That way you can turn your passion into action!

Join us June 9th at 6pm at Gangplank Chandler

GP Academy: Finding Your Passion and Purpose

Monday, Jun 9, 2014, 6:00 PM

Gangplank Chandler
260 S Arizona Ave

1 Gangplankers Attending

To be a successful person in anything in life it helps if you have Passion, Purpose & Perseverance. Perseverance is defined as steadfastness in doing something despite opposition, difficulty or delay in achieving success. Is it is easy to persevere when you know your Purpose and have a Passion about it. Passion is the gasoline in the vehicle and yo…

Check out this Meetup →

Kim Moyers Announced as City of Chandler Downtown Redevelopment Manager

Kim Moyers

Kim Moyers

Downtown Chandler has hired Kim Moyers as the new Redevelopment Manager to recruit businesses and guide development in downtown. Kim came from the Town of Queen Creek where she headed up the Queen Creek Incubator and lead many special initiatives and Capital Improvement projects.

Additionally, her experience includes serving as executive director of the Downtown Association/Small Business Development Center in Kokomo, IN, where she directed and supervised the association, which consisted of more than two thousand employees and 170 businesses within the downtown area.

“I look forward to being involved in the unique strategy that is required to develop a vibrant downtown,” said Moyers. “Chandler’s downtown is poised for growth and expansion and I look forward to being involved its success.”

Moyers holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Indiana University is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute and holds a Rutgers Certificate in Business District Management.

I have had the pleasure of working with Kim while sitting on the Queen Creek Economic Commission and at the AriZona Business Incubators Association. Excited for what this means for the Gangplank Chandler Local Initiative. Welcome Kim!