Five Communities Project Winner!

Contributed by Wendy Coneybeer

In late September, we were notified that Gangplank was part of a group of 10 finalists selected from 31 non-profit organizations which had applied for the inaugural “Five Communities” project sponsored by the Center for the Future of Arizona. Following a four-week long “Why Gangplank?” campaign spearheaded by Operations Director Katie Charland, which culminated in the creation of the microsite, we are pleased to announce that our community has been selected as one of the five winners of the “Five Communities” competition.

As one of the winning nonprofit organizations, Gangplank will apply jointly with the Center for the Future of Arizona and the other four winners for $1.5 million in funding ($100,000/year over a three-year period or $300,000 per project) to implement our “Big Idea” proposed to help strengthen Arizona at a local level. This idea includes focusing on the people in our community to provide connections, educational opportunities, and the mentorship that they will need to become effective participants in the new economy.

The other organizations joining Gangplank in the “Five Communities” award are:

  • The Arizona Wine Growers Association
  • Desert Botanical Garden and the Conservation Alliance
  • YWCA Tucson
  • International Sonoran Desert Alliance

The Center for the Future of Arizona is an independent nonprofit organization with a mission “to help Arizonans shape and define the future through an action-oriented agenda focused on contemporary issues and topics critical to the state.” For more information on the Center, the “Five Communities” project, and the winners, check out

Academy Classes for 2012

Gangplank believes you never stop learning. As a result, we strive to offer classes/workshops providing content to keep Gangplankers moving at the rapid pace of business. Academy courses last approximately 60-90 minutes on Tuesday evenings (unless otherwise stated), with the goal for participants to walk away with a new or expanded skill set. For 2012, we are expanding our class offerings, scheduling at least two Academy courses each month. Here is a preview of the classes already scheduled: Continue reading

History to the People

Cali and Brianna are history doctoral students at Arizona State University who passionately believe that history should be accessible to all and that historical thinking is both relevant and highly in demand in the twenty-first century.

To address these needs, they are in the early stages of planning a website — — with a tentative launch date of February 1, 2012. This website will provide a forum in which a non-academic audience can obtain scholarly historical information that maintains its high academic standards and yet is directed specifically toward a public audience. Thus, blog posts, videos, and other media will emphasize application and the historical thinking behind the material. As well as a legitimate and accessible source of information, they envision as a vehicle promoting historical interest and conversation, a place in which people can ask questions, consider new ideas, and engage in a dialogue about history and the role of historical thinking in our daily lives.

A Personal ‘Why Gangplank?’ Response

I’m noticing this odd trend among many of my friends in their mid- to late-twenties. Around about a year mark at a new job, they’ve figured out the work, developed a routine. The feelings of excitement and nervousness start to give way to boredom and frustration. They feel uninspired and wait in hopes that something will spark passion for their work again.

I hit my year mark with Gangplank in early June. There were no feelings of boredom – after all, Startup Weekend Chandler was just two weeks away! Work was just as busy and exciting as ever, as I awaited judgement by the masses on my first startup event. I was on fire, knocking out hundreds of tasks each day.

And then Startup Weekend Chandler ended. No feelings of boredom – after all, there were 60-days of Roadmap to Launch to prep and the first Extreme Pitch event to plan. But there weren’t the same feelings of relief and pleasure that follow putting on a good event once the 54-hours were over. I could feel a cloud of apathy starting to form over my head and I didn’t know how to stop it.

Extreme Pitch went off without a hitch, but still no excitement – after all, there was TEDxChandler on the horizon. My feelings of apathy only got worse. I wasn’t passionate about Gangplank anymore…I was going through the motions.

For two-and-a-half-months this went on. Answer emails, schedule mentors, edit brownbag videos, meet with Anchors, rinse and repeat. No inspiration to take on new projects, help Gangplank move forward.

Then, in late September, we were informed Gangplank had made it into the final selection round for the Arizona We Want ‘Five Communities Project’. A glimmer! This was the first successful grant proposal I had written and an opportunity for Gangplank to step onto the national nonprofit stage. And as a cherry on top, they were allowing us to pick the method for our final proposal.

Several meetings later, it was agreed telling the Gangplank story and expressing our value visually would be much more compelling than in a written proposal. The ‘Why Gangplank?’ campaign was born, resulting in a microsite to be filled with individual video interviews.

The video interviewing responsibility fell to me – interview Anchors, city officials, participants, kids, everyone I could fit in within a few weeks. My questions were simple:

  • What is your Gangplank Story?
  • A favorite Gangplank moment.
  • A one-word response to ‘Gangplank is’

Over four weeks, I conducted 45 interviews and listened to more than seven hours of Gangplank stories and moments.

And it was just what the doctored ordered.

It has been a privilege to hear the individual stories that have made you all a part of this community, not to mention witnessing the special place Gangplank holds in so many of your lives. No event, workshop or goal is more satisfying than sharing a conversation about the impact of Gangplank. Putting together these videos has reinspired me in my work and I hope to continue to add value to your lives.

Please check out the website dedicated to this project, or visit our YouTube Channel to watch individual videos.

A tremendous thank you goes out to everyone that ‘volunteered’ to be interviewed on camera, as well as those that turned in the beautiful pictures. Also, big thumbs up to Chris Piccirillo of Building Bonanza for donating his lights for the shoot.

This project could not have been possible without the design & programming expertise of Jonathan Kressaty, as well as the writing goddess Wendy Coneybeer.

Advocate for Passenger Rail

Arizona PIRG has been telling ADOT what they need to consider while studying passenger rail, such as putting the rail line along the route with the highest ridership potential and building stations in places where passengers have good access to public transit. Now it’s your turn to give ADOT your opinion.

Will you please send your thoughts about passenger rail connecting Phoenix and Tucson to the Arizona Department of Transportation?

By 2050, the drive between Phoenix and Tucson is expected to take more than five hours, even if we expand the I-10 to five lanes the entire way. As Arizona continues to grow, our infrastructure needs will continue to expand as well.

Tell ADOT today how important it is for Arizona to have passenger rail and what you think it should look like—just a few quick sentences is fine if you’re strapped for time.

Why Gangplank

The beauty of Gangplank lies in the hundreds of stories and experiences unique to every individual that walks through our doors. These stories are what drives our growth – more than 65% of our traffic comes from referrals by you.

So while we excel at spreading at the stories, we suck at collecting them.

Help us preserve our culture for future Gangplankers and let the world understand what goes on behind our doors. Continue reading