My Week at Gangplank Tucson

Gangplank Tucson recently moved from the Bookman’s warehouse in south Tucson to the first floor of the historic Pioneer building in downtown. This eleven story building was once the epicenter of activity in downtown Tucson. However, it now sits more than 50 percent vacant. Gangplank has taken on the task of trying to re-energize this historic gem.

The transition has come with a rapid series of changes. In addition to the Gangplank Tucson crew working hard to fix up their facility, they started programming for all of Gangplank’s initiatives, and there has been an explosion of interest in Gangplank. This community that is literally years in the making is quickly coming together to be a hub of activity impacting their city in significant ways.

Their renovations started with taking down built in cubicle walls in order to make the building fit Gangplank’s collaborative style of “no walls or physical barriers”. Then there was some new carpet and plenty of painting. I headed down about 2 weeks ago just for the day to pitch in with some of the painting.

Last week, I headed down again to spend the week with the Gangplank Tucson crew. While there, I got to see the next step of renovations, the new concrete floors. Unfortunately, this meant that much of the activity in the space was limited so I only got to meet the hardcore group that came in during renovations.

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{Gangplank Tucson under renovation}

I started out my week by getting dinner with several Tucson Gangplankers. They made my visit much easier by offering a room in their home for my stay and offering up a ton of advice on places to check out during my visit (thanks Bob and Therese!).

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{Downtown Innovation District Meeting at Maker House}

True to the spirit of Gangplank, upon moving downtown, GP Tucson dove in and became very active in the downtown community. While visiting, I tagged along to a few meetings with fellow Gangplankers. I got to know many of the key players impacting economic development downtown including attending a meeting for the Downtown Innovation District. The meeting was held in the Maker house, a fellow innovation center that is soon to open. The Downtown Innovation District came about due to talks between Ganglank, Maker House and a few other local innovation oriented organizations. Much like us, Maker House is also working to renovate their space. I was fortunate to get a tour and hear some of the extremely unique history of their building. In a prior life, it was the Rocky Mountain Oyster Club’s building. Complete with a historic mural that needs restoration and 3 separate pools that have been filled in, this tour was one of the highlights of my week. There is no denying that Downtown Tucson is an exciting place to be right now.

The best part of the week by far though was the people. There is no doubt that I enjoy being around Gangplankers regardless of their geographical location. I loved hearing their stories, laughing with them, and seeing how they are working to create a community that they are proud to live, work, and play in. I can’t wait to visit them again!

The Manifesto Project

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Convening to imagine how we can create better communities is part of what we do at Gangplank. However, we hope to not stop there. Doing over saying is part of Gangplank’s manifesto as well. So when we were asked to host a Manifesto Project event as part of the Arizona We Want 2.0 we dove in. The Manifesto Project came out of the Arizona We Want 2.0. This event is intended to gather the voice of young leaders in asking how we can create communities that they desire to live in.

At the Chandler location, we collaborated with several other local non profits and organizations in hosting this event including the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership, ICAN, and the Chandler Chamber.

The Manifesto Project asks 3 questions. Listed below are the responses that came from Chandler participants:

I will lead the change I want to see by…
1) informing the public about issues occurring in their community and
showing them how to create change
2) joining a local govt board committee
3) saying yes to the opportunities that allow me to meet new people
and build friendships with them
4) catalyzing people to build magnificent places and cities
5)volunteering at my neighborhood school


Our Generation is….

1)AMBITIOUS!!!!
2) Full of potential, passionate and driven, anti establishment
3) Needs direction
4)Altruistic
5) Connected and Caring about the world around us

I would stay in AZ forever if…
1) We had a vibrant community with better food, diverse culture, more
public spaces, more affordable indoor activities.
2) I could build meaningful relationships with the people and places
in the community
3) If Parents, politicians and educators worked together to create
more creative, capable, considerate, community oriented children
4)If we had a vibrant business ecosystem where active angel investors
are available and accessible, business knowledgeable and resources
support people from good idea stage to launch, red tape is eliminated,
jobs are satisfying and sustainable
5)Socially conscious culture that offers cutting edge solutions for
social problems – environment, mental, physical, health delivery
systems, youth, poverty etc

We will be hosting one more Manifesto Project event tomorrow. If you didn’t get to a chance to join us in Chandler, join us in Avondale as we dream of a better future for Arizona.

Five Things Organizing Gangplank Brownbags Has Taught Me

Guest post by Dani Cutler.

I don’t need to dwell on what Gangplank is, and what it means to the community. Pretty much everyone reading this knows. If not, here’s a introductory video great to check out.

One way I was able to give back for a time was running the Gangplank Chandler Brownbag presentations each Wednesday at noon. I have been using what Gangplank has to offer for a couple of years prior, between Gangplank Jr. events, podcasting, and using the space for other reasons. When asked to take on the Brownbags, I was fortunately in a place where I could. It was one of the most fun and challenging things to experience. Here are some ways coordinating Brownbags has helped me grow:

1). Networking. You will meet many people this way. Not just the brownbag speakers, but also in those who use the space on a daily basis. It’s a wide variety of people with an endless variety of interests.

2). Learning. When you are coordinating the show, you get to see all the performances. Not only do you get a wide variety of presentations to learn on a business level, I’ve also learned more about local food, the music industry, philosophy, community events, and have even done a little yoga. We’re talking real-world application here.

3). Boldness. I learned really fast that if you need something, it’s better to just yell it out than try and figure out which individual person to talk to. As I was learning how to use the sound system and the projector, I yelled often. Not to mention the practice speaking in front of people once a week. After all, you do have to introduce the speaker, and let people know what is coming up in the future. Side benefit- it’s ok to ask for help.

4). Leadership. Before taking on brownbags, I had been on committees, and have volunteered my time. I was even President of the PTO at my daughter’s school. However, that was a nearly a decade before this, so I was rusty. Coordinating brownbags helped me gain some confidence back and not run away screaming when all eyes were on me looking for guidance. In fact, all this confidence led me to head the organizing committee for TechPhx, a low-cost technology “un-conference” held every November in Tempe.

5). Started my own business. Probably the biggest thing being a part of the Gangplank community has taught me is that if you can’t find it in someone else, create it yourself. I had been looking for employment for several months without any luck. What spending a year consistently being around these amazing people in this space showed me that I have the skills and the experience to branch out on my own. So I did. If that’s not a definition of “Be Dangerous,” I don’t know what is.

Thanks, Gangplank.

~Dani

Gangplank Town Hall

Join us for the annual Gangplank Town Hall. Gangplank founders Derek Neighbors and Jade Meskill will give the State of Gangplank Address, followed by extensive time to answer questions and explore new ideas.

The Gangplank Community is continually experiencing radical change. We are a movement impacting communities around the globe. We need your help to challenge the status quo. We want you to make meaningful change in your community.

Show up. Bring your most dangerous ideas.  Be part of Gangplank’s future.

Gangplank’s Town Hall will be held on Wednesday May 15th at 6pm in Gangplank Headquarters (260 S. Arizona Ave, Chandler, AZ 85225). Gangplankers from all communities are invited to participate. This event will be live streamed to include those in other communities. You can access the livestream here: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/1838070/events/2085423

New Website Coming (Real) Soon

For years we have struggled with creating a site that helps people all over the world engage with Gangplank. Having multiple locations, each with a different set of initiatives, numerous events, and so many things happening in the Gangplank movement can be intimidating.

Instead of waiting to be perfect, we are going to Be Dangerous. This month you will see some major changes to our site. We will be launching a new, extremely simple, theme. We can figure out what is and is not working, and quickly iterate to improve the site for everyone.

Visit our github project to get involved and make the Gangplank experience better for everyone. Any and all skillsets are welcome.

Hiring Solved is Really Working

When Shon Burton and Trevor Olson first launched Hiring Solved, who could’ve guessed that in less than six months they’d be accepting a startup scholarship from Tallwave?

Flashback to Gangplank’s Startup Weekend 2011. “I pitched him my idea and he thought it was shit,” as Burton recalls his first encounter with Olson.

Now their recruiting tool is running at full force. So much so, they’ve just accepted their first international client. And it couldn’t have happened without Gangplank. In fact, Burton eloquently writes in previous posts (Something Crazy, HS Launches) about how the culture at GP is the reason for the season of Hiring Solved.

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“I’ve been searching and longing to find a group of passionate people, people that inspire, create, hack, and love what they do,” wrote Burton.

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So what makes Burton and Olson unique? They’re really working. It seems simple but it applies to everything. One of the first things they’ll tell you about Hiring Solved is that times have changed. People are writing their resumes everyday, with everything they do. That couldn’t be more true for the founders. Take Olson’s for example. Only a programmer would write theirs in code.

If it wasn’t for Gangplank, Olson and Burton might not have met. As they say in Hiring Solved’s tagline, it’s “The Fastest Way to Find Talent”…. after Gangplank that is.

Executive Director- An Introduction

Hey, I’m Trish, Gangplank’s Executive Director.

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Many of you know that Gangplank’s first employee, Katie Hurst headed off on new adventures in October. At that time, I was given the opportunity to challenge myself as the Executive Director for Gangplank. Many of us have already shared meals, ideas, questions, stories, and challenges. However, with a community that now extends globally, I know there are many more community members I have yet to meet. Hopefully this introduction provides a little background.

I am passionately curious. I love meeting people, exploring, and challenging myself. I started college as a parks and recreation major with an emphasis in experiential education. I had the opportunity to practice as an experiential educator while exploring team dynamics and promoting pro social behavior on NAU’s Challenge Course. It turned out team dynamics and social psychology fascinated me more than recreation. I still try to bring an element of play to everything I do, but I found myself taking social psych classes and graduated with a major in psychology.

Upon graduation, I spent several years in career and academic advising. I love seeing people pursue their passions and find meaningful employment. However, I still hoped to do something related to team building or community building. I was also starting to take an interest in under resourced communities.  Two years ago I left academic advising to pursue these interests.  I obtained a certificate in community development and spent my time visiting under resourced communities. It was a year full of learning and exploring the unique challenges and assets of communities around the country.

After returning to Chandler, my hometown, I came across Gangplank’s website. It completely baffled me, but piqued my interest enough that I stopped in for a brownbag several days later. I still vividly recall that day. With little idea of what I was walking into, I showed up for an open forum brown bag on the topic of “Getting involved in Gangplank”. The good thing about an open forum is engagement was expected and thus I had the chance to make a few immediate connections. The uncomfortable part was that I found myself diving into a brainstorming session on the topic of Gangplank initiatives within my first hour at Gangplank. In the spirit of giving before you get, I went ahead and offered to volunteer my skills in event planning. Katie however contacted me several days later and asked me to join the GP staff as a marketing and events intern (in this instance intern was purely a code word for unpaid staff member). I never would have imagined that this scenario of diving in during uncomfortable situations would come to characterize my time with Gangplank. It often feels like my role with Gangplank changes daily.  I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with intelligent and capable individuals as I continue to take on this challenge. 
A few fun facts:

  • I have a nerdy love for AZ human and natural history. I actually collect books that relate to AZ.
  • I was a white water rafting guide in the Grand Canyon for several summers.
  • I love water fights.
  • I am the mama of a 7 year old Chesapeake Bay Retriever. He has his mama’s naturally curly brown hair and love for water.
  • I can juggle 3 objects fairly easily. I haven’t tried in a while, but probably could pull off 4.
  • I didn’t own a smart phone for my first 8 months around Gangplank. Clearly I love social experiments. ;)

I would love the chance to meet you you as well. If we haven’t met yet, please introduce yourself if you see me around or feel free to shoot me a message.

A Journey’s End

Guest post by Katie Hurst

The past two years have been an incredible period of growth for both Gangplank as an organization, and myself. When Derek asked if I was interested in coming on board in the summer of 2010, I never expected the job to change my life. Gangplank has challenged me in ways I never imagined and for that I am very grateful.

But everything good thing must eventually come to an end.

Next month, my husband and I will be moving to Portland and I will be leaving my full-time role with Gangplank. I say full-time role because I will never leave Gangplank entirely, just as it will never leave me. Gangplank is a philosophy – a set of values I’ve so fully embraced it would be impossible for me not to carry them into the next step of my journey. I plan to continue volunteering from a far, proving Gangplankers can be a part of the community no matter where they go. Who knows? Sometime in the near future you may be able to visit me at Gangplank Portland!

The best part of my “retirement”? I get to pass along this amazing leadership opportunity  to Assistant Director and former Gangplank Event/Marketing intern Trish Gillam. Trish has been my right hand for awhile now and has a passion for community development that will greatly benefit Gangplank. She is the perfect individual to be leading our organization into the next phase of growth.

I will greatly miss all my Gangplank friends and our partners across Arizona. Yet, I know I’m leaving Gangplank in great hands – those of our local Directors, Initiative leaders, program volunteers, Anchors and drop-ins. You will all help make Gangplank great and spread our manifesto throughout the world. It’s truly been an honor.

Check out my brownbag talk on the lessons I’ve learned through my time at Gangplank and how they can help you.

Gangplank 2012 Survey Results

We are very fortunate to have a great deal of talent within the Gangplank community who are so willing to contribute their talents to help us grow.

When Susan Baier of Audience Audit suggested Gangplank consider doing a segmentation survey, I leaped at the chance. While our monthly Open Forums garner some good discussion, it was often from a small group and not measurable. So we turned to our community expert and gave her our blessing. Continue reading

‘Walk the Plank’ Unconference Recap

Though Gangplank has hosted many a conference over the years, we’ve never planned an event totally focused on our philosophy. As part of our first Director’s Conference, we wanted to expose our volunteer staff to the community that has supported Gangplank Chandler for so many years, as well as allow the community an open forum to share their ideas based on the values of our manifesto – doing over saying, boldness over assurance and people over personalities.

Attendees ranged from council members, nonprofit directors, ASU staff, students, parents, entrepreneurs and corporate leadership. The discussions were intense and honest – sometimes leading to disagreements – but always in the spirit of sharing and learning.

Our Directors certainly took a lot away from the experience and we hope many other take the discussions back to their work and communities.

A recap of the sessions that sent in notes can be found on the Gangplank Wiki.

A big thank you to the City of Chandler for hosting our event at the beautiful City Hall.