Legos, Guitars and Handlebars

Come join us this weekend at Mesa Arts Center’s Guitars and Handlebars Season Kickoff Festival. Along with all of the great activities and live music, Gangplank Jr and Building Bonanza will be there hosting Lego events from 10am-4pm on Saturday and 10am-2pm on Sunday.

If you are already a part of the Gangplank Jr First Lego League, we will be unveiling this season’s mat and challenges.  From 10am-12pm on Saturday, we will assemble the boards for this year and discuss the various tactics we can use to achieve the missions. There will also be a Sumo bot challenge (2-4pm), a large master building session with Building Bonanza and a free robotics build to handle various challenges (12-2pm).

Sunday will start off with First Lego League information for this year’s challenges and a chasis build competition, followed by another master build session from the guys at Building Bonanza.

As if all of that wasn’t enough to excite you, a full size replica of a Harley Davidson will be built from Legos by certified Lego artist Nathan Sawaya over the course of the two days.  Don’t miss out on the family fun at this great event.

Become a KJZZ source

KJZZ, Phoenix’s NPR station, and its partner stations in the Fronteras regional news network want you to share your expertise and ideas! As part of a project called the Public Insight Network, KJZZ and Fronteras are recruiting as many and as wide a variety of people as possible to serve as sources.

Becoming part of the network is easy–just fill out one or both of these forms about what stories in your community aren’t being covered and what you know more about than most people. This project creates new ways for listeners and community members to help guide public radio towards important stories that are being missed. It also helps journalists better cover less traditional or less widely understood subject matter.

We think that everyone’s an expert in something, and we want you to share your expertise. Become a source for KJZZ and Fronteras today!

CoFinder Event

Guest Post by Nick Labadie

Startups are all about the Team. Good ones have a chance, bad ones really don’t. We know building the right team can be difficult and takes getting to know a lot of people. Cofinder is a place where folks looking to build those teams can meet and talk. We will hand pick a panel of stars to give their insights and answer your questions about startup teams. This will also be a great place to learn about 24/7 resources for startups in the valley. Space is limited so register for free today!

Friday, Aug. 26th 2011 at 5:30pm, The Center 3rd floor, 21 E. 6th St. Tempe, AZ 85281

Presented by (“pin-fob”) with hosted beer/wine bar

Pangean Orchestra Looking for Board Members

The Pangean Orchestra is pleased to announce that the ensemble is 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. With a mission “to create and sustain a professional global orchestra that promotes peace, raise awareness of traditional music and instruments of all cultures, and create innovative music through a truly unique combination of instruments,” the ensemble is looking for board members.

Within the past two years, the ensemble has performed at the Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix Symphony Hall, Arizona International Festival, and worked with International Organizations such as Catholic Relief Charities and Welcome to America Project. The organization is looking for individuals from all backgrounds that have a passion for music as a tool breaking down boundaries.

For more information, contact Rose French.

Take Me Out to the Ballpark

Come join us on August 11th to cheer on the hometown Arizona Diamondbacks as they take on the Houston Astros.

The plan is to meet up at Dave’s Electric Brew in Tempe (College & 5th St) and take the light rail down to Chase Field.

To minimize out of pocket costs, once, we arrive at Chase Field we can stroll over to the box office and buy tickets for the bleachers – most likely in sections 140-142 (or wherever you’d prefer to watch the game.)

Here are the particulars:
Date: August 11th, 2011
What: Arizona Diamondback vs. Houston Astros
Where: Chase Field
First Pitch: 6:40 pm
Ticket Cost: $18.25 (including service fees for bleacher seats)

Meet: Dave’s Electric Brew
Where: 502 S College Ave / Tempe
When: 5:15 pm (or so)
What: Craft Beer & Pub Fare at Happy Hour Prices

Depart for the game:
About 6:00 (That should give everyone enough time to arrive at Chase Field, Purchase Tickets, Concessions and arrive in our seats pre-first pitch.)

Game Transportation: Light Rail Park & Ride

*Valley Metro provides a LINK shuttle from Arizona Ave & Chandler Blvd to the light rail. Click for LINK schedule

If you want are intent on going and want to buy tickets before gameday please visit The Arizona Diamondbacks Ticket Site.

In typical Gangplank fashion, this is an unorganized event so if anyone has any suggestions to make the night more enjoyable – let’s hear them. Bring the family and let’s all enjoy a Summer night at the Ballpark!

A Year in Review

My first year at Gangplank has felt like an eternity (in a good way). The sheer amount of work that has been done and progress that I’ve seen makes a year at Gangplank feel like ten anywhere else.

Working at Gangplank challenges me everyday. Mostly it’s small things, like learning the difference between various kinds of 8-feet bulbs to replace in the project rooms or what adaptor works with which laptop for a brownbag presentation. Sometimes though, the challenges are things that scare me shitless, like organizing a Startup Weekend and 60-day incubation program, having never attended a Startup Weekend or started a company.

But the everyday struggles and common feelings of utter technical stupidity have tremendous payoff. I’ve helped build communities of strangers and seen them take on incredible projects, such as building a Gangplank (Tucson) or a company in 54-hours. I’ve watched government agencies come together in the common cause of supporting community. I’ve seen the direct impact of Gangplank on local business and experienced the gratitude of our work in promoting their efforts. And the free lunches from Anchors as an occasional thank you are nice too.

On the bad days when I feel like an utter failure, I have to remind myself that the people of Gangplank hold me to a higher standard than anywhere else. No matter what screwups I make, I’m still growing as a leader, as opposed to any other job where I’d just be taking a step back.

So how do I top year one?

Focus on the big picture
While the day-to-day aspects of my job have me focused on the minor details, I often get wrapped up and fail to think about the bigger vision. What we do here has lasting impact, beyond the next few meetings, weeks or miles. Instead of focusing on how to manage the next hour of programming, or weekend of activities, the focus is on what happens after that hour, beyond that weekend, and into the next five years.

Be aggressive, be be agressive
I’ve got the brass balls on my desk (thanks Mike) as a constant reminder that it’s my job to stand up for the Gangplank community – not just to the outside world, but internally. It means taking off the friend hat and having the hard conversations with regulars, Anchors and even the Gangplank co-founders, to make sure we don’t stray from our core values.

The Anchors had their shot at reviewing my work. How about you? How’s my driving?

Weekly Roundup – July 19-25

This week at Gangplank:

Tuesday, July 19th

Wednesday, July 20th

Friday, July 22nd

Saturday, July 23rd

  • (2:00-3:30pm) Gangplank Jr. Journalism Program

Monday, July 25th

  • (7:00pm) Geek Girls Meetup

Building Futures Mentoring Program

While not all Gangplanks can provide advice to startups as part of our mentoring program, every Gangplanker has something to share with the youth in our community.

That is why we are partnering with a different kind of mentoring program, the YMCA’s Building Futures program.

Building Futures is a free program established to provide youth (6-18 years old) from over-stressed families an opportunity to grow through a positive relationship with an adult mentor. Many of these kids suffer from low self-esteem and social isolation, issues that can be solved simply by listening and spending time sharing in their interests.

For Gangplank, this program is a natural fit. Our collaborative environment breeds confidence and camaraderie every day, in addition to providing individuals with the confidence to move forward and pursue their passions, whether that be as an entrepreneur, freelancer or small business owner. If Gangplank has helped mentor you, what better way to repay us then by assisting the next generation in the same way.

The program is opened to all Gangplankers ages 23+. Due to our partnership, the YMCA has waived the mentor training, so that volunteers can begin working immediately with the kids. If you are interested in participating, please email Kate Clarno at or 602-212-6179.

Friendship over Formality – Improv

As part of a new series, ‘Living the Gangplank Manifesto’, various community participants share their stories about the values through blogs, videos and podcasts. If you’d like to participate, email

David Cosand shares how Forty Agency lives the value of friendship over formality by performing improv exercises every morning with fellow Anchor company, Integrum.

Gangplank Jr School Supply Drive

UPDATE 7/22 – With current donations, we’ve been able to fill 26 backpacks. We are still in need of the following (in order by most desired):

  • Backpacks! Keep ’em coming
  • Binders
  • Looseleaf paper
  • Graph Paper
  • Protractors
  • Calculators
  • Planners
  • Markers
  • Construction Paper
  • Colored Pencils
  • Scissors
  • Hand sanitizer

Time again for the Gangplank Jr School Supply Drive. Last year we donated 44 FULL backpacks to low-income students in the Chandler Unified School District.

Not only do we intend to top that this year, we’ve added high school supplies to the mix to reach a wider range of students. All you need to do is drop off said supplies at a participating Locations (see below). Deadline is Friday, August 5th to drop off your supplies. Continue reading