Gangplank Avondale Opens!

On Monday, March 5th, 2012 Gangplank Avondale opened it’s doors to innovators, techs, creatives, entrepreneurs, and the general public. The space is typically open from around 8:30am to 5:30pm. Gangplank Avondale provides an infrastructure (that is both social and physical) for creative collaboration, disruption, and the building of vibrant businesses, communities, and economies.

The space is now open for drop-in collaborative working, although March 20th from 4pm- 8pm will mark the Grand Opening event with remarks from the Mayor of Avondale, a founder of Gangplank, and the Gangplank Avondale Directors of Operations. Catering will be provided by West Valley restaurant, Caballero Grill. Take a tour of the space and get to know what Gangplank Avondale is all about!

Our model is based on human-powered collaborative working and the trading of social capital. We work in an open space that has very few physical barriers so that we can easily communicate, share, converse, and spread our thoughts and ideas with one another.

Join us on Fridays at noon for our brownbag presentations to hear leaders from the community fill us in on changes in their industry, best practices, new business models, changing laws, and insights into the successes and challenges of their careers. Open your mind and your mouth and let’s get conversations started!

Follow us on Twitter @gpavondale or on Facebook at

Gangplank Avondale Demo

We are closing in on the opening date for our space on Central. Join us in the festivities at the Grand Opening with the Mayor of Avondale on March 20th from 4pm-8pm. The space will be open and free to the public and we welcome anyone to come in and see what collaborative working is all about!

Here are some photos of the demo work going down as we speak:


Gangplank Jr Journalism Program

Children have a natural curiosity that makes them excellent journalists. As any parent can tell you, they are always questioning and see everything.

The Gangplank Jr Journalism Program seeks to build upon this natural curiosity, teaching kids to use their powers of observation to inform others. Participants will learn the importance of the first amendment, how to write different types of stories such as news and feature, podcasting, video as well as create a working news site as the final product.

The Gangplank Jr Journalism Program takes place over 9-weeks, beginning July 9th. Meetings will take place each Saturday at 2:00pm. Kids must attend at least five of the meetings in order to participate in the ‘First Issue’ workshop on September 9th.

Please join us for our first meeting on Saturday, July 9th at 2:00pm at Gangplank.

Exploring Skate Art [Cancelled]


The gallery is closed today so unfortunately we will not be able to have the event.  It will be rescheduled.


You don’t have to be an expert at the kick flip or 50-50 grind to appreciate the skill and tenacity of skateboarding enthusiasts. Nor do you have to know anything about skateboarding to marvel at unique artwork.

The ‘Full Deck: A Short history of Skate Art‘ exhibit opens up the behind-the-scenes world of skating, with an array of eclectic graffiti and graphics on boards, as well as photography of events.

Gangplank Jr will be making a trip to view the exhibit and learn more about the skating culture on Monday, February 21st at 1:00pm. We will meet up at Gangplank and then head over as a group.


Whenever we here at Gangplank Jr receive feedback, it always seems the most common request is for more fire.

Well, we heard the cry and answered the call with a flameworking class.

Glass artist Laurie Nessel provided a live demonstration on how to shape glass beads using a propane torch. Children were invited to ‘pull stringers’, which involves putting a glass rod in the flame, then pulling the ends apart while rolling the ends. This makes a thinner rod which is then used to decorate the beads.

Children aged 9 and over where then permitted to try their hand at making a bead, which meant heating the end of a glass rod and then attaching it to the ceramic holder to shape.

If you weren’t able to make the event, Laurie also teaches classes through the Mesa Arts Center, as well as private lessons.

Story Writing Workshop #2

The first story workshop in 2010, which resulted in stories of candy and dinosaurs, was such a success that we have planned another for this Saturday, January 22nd at 2:00pm.

Kids will learn basic story mechanics, then collaborate with one another to write a story. This activity is suggested for ages 6+. Materials will be provided at the workshop.

Bring your outrageous ideas and big dreams to share! RSVP on the Facebook page.

2011 Gangplank Jr. Kickoff Recap

Talk about starting the year off right. More than 20 parents attended the Gangplank Jr 2011 Kickoff, providing valuable feedback and ideas that will drive our programming this year.

The meeting began with Gangplank Executive Director Derek Neighbors providing background on the organization, as well as how Gangplank Jr fits into the larger vision of Gangplank as a whole. Gangplank began as a place for adults to break out of the traditional corporate sphere, challenging themselves to learn new skills and collaborate with one another. As that concept grew, it became apparent those ideals needed to start being taught much younger, as the state of education continues to decline. Gangplank Jr offers an opportunity for kids to explore, be creative, and most importantly, fail in world that increasingly bars them from those experiences.

A recap of 2010 events followed, along with a discussion on what types of programs parents would like to see in 2011. Afterward Mike Benner, Gangplank Jr initiative leader for 2011, shared his goals for the year. Both the feedback and goals can be found at the bottom of this post.

The evening closed with a description of volunteer opportunities for parents. As the organization continues to grow, Gangplank Jr will rely on parent involvement to maintain structure and communicate effectively with its members. If you are interested in reading more about current volunteer opportunities, visit our Volunteer page and fill out an interest form. Please keep in mind we need parents not only for leadership roles, but also to help out with single events. If you have expertise in an area listed within our ideas or goals section below, please contact us.

A huge thanks to all the parents that took time out of their busy schedules to attend. We are blown away by the level of participation we’ve seen right off the bat and are excited to get cracking!

Big thanks to Floridino’s and Jeff Weninger for donating food for the evening.

Programming Ideas

  • Learning to/from Fail
  • Cooking
  • Basic Mechanics – car, house, “handyman”
  • Audio/Podcasting
  • Xtranormal
  • Glass Fusing
  • “Take Apart Box”/Break Down Day
  • Manga/Comic Create/Go Animate
  • Ice Skating/Roller Skating
  • Hiking/Rock Climbing
  • Running
  • Falconry/Reptiles
  • Adventure Racing
  • Tech+Art (ie claymation)
  • Creative Writing
  • Volunteering/Charity
  • Photography/Videography
  • First Aid/Safety
  • CPR
  • Bullying/Self Defense
  • Orange Picking for the Food Bank
  • Local Orphanage Tour
  • Music+tech
  • Financial planning
  • Music appreciation
  • Theater

2011 Goals

  • Full robotics curriculum for FIRST LEGO League
  • GP Jr Camp during school break
  • Highschool internship/shadowing program with Gangplank anchors
  • Tutoring/mentoring program
  • At least two Gangplank Jr events per month
  • DangerScouts / Monthly Big Events, not weekly little events / Badges
  • Diversify activities (Art, design, video, tech)
  • Track membership
  • Work with GP Health for more kid’s health activities
  • Movie and Game Night (family night/open house)
  • Work with under privileged groups and orphanages
  • Contests (best game, design, art)

(Re)Introducing Gangplank Jr. Initiative Leader Mike Benner

Gangplank Jr is growing – expanding programs, taking on volunteers and looking to change education in the Valley. Our goals are big for 2011, even bigger for 2015.

It takes a passionate and courageous individual to step up and volunteer to take on these goals. Fortunate for us, he’s been volunteering and running Gangplank Jr programs for more than a year.

To ensure our vision continues on the right track, Mike Benner has volunteered to head our Gangplank Jr initiatives. Mike has been with the program since the beginning, running events from Scratch Programming, to Castles & Catapults. He designed the younger kids track for our Lego League and is a key influence in starting DangerScouts.

2011 is going to be a banner year for the kids and we’re glad to have Mike on board.

Gangplank Jr 2011 Kick-Off

In just under a year, Gangplank Jr has grown from one event every few months to an event every weekend. We’ve successfully funded and mentored two FIRST LEGO League robotic teams. These activities are successful because of involvement from parents.

From building a drum to designing catapults, Gangplank Jr promotes a range of activities that exploit a child’s natural curiosity, something that is becoming less and less available in schools. As we continue to grow, it’s important to us to have parent feedback and participation at all levels.

Gangplank Jr has big goals for 2011. Come be a part of putting them into action.

Food and activities for the kids will be provided. Please RSVP to attend.