Code For Seattle May 31 – It’s not just for geeks

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The Seattle event is one of dozens planned around the country, and will be part hackathon, part unconference.

The goal: bring together technologists, entrepreneurs, social activists, designers, and citizens to address civic issues in Seattle.

Anyone can participate. You don’t have to be an expert in technology.

  • you do have to care about your neighborhood and community.
  • storytellers are needed
  • Non profits need to think beyond their one big silent auction events to incorporating more informal ways of interacting with ALL donors, not just the 1%ers

Schedule and updates at codeforseattle.org/hackforchange.

Have a project to pitch? there’s a wiki page for that!

REGISTER: Now

WHERE: Seattle City Hall, Bertha Knight Landes Room
600 4th Ave
Seattle
WA

WHEN: May 31, 2014 @ 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

COST: Free

CONTACTEvent website 

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Most Favorite Barista

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I love the business community down here, everyone’s really tight.

And, it’s tough to have compassion for the homeless here.

It’s like there are two camps; there’s the nice ones just struggling like everyone else,

and the aggressive ones that are up in your face.

Me? I’m finishing up my masters in theology.

Potential PSQ Busker? Recruit him!!!!

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PSQ needs good buskers.

I ran into Eric in the U district.  Listen to his music here. He’s amazing!

#londonplane#delicatus#barsajor take notice for folks like this to increase foot traffic.

 eric reid. – Latin / jazz, brazilian,classical, blues, rock

Urban Planning 101: Big Chain Store Are Landmarks

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Chain stores are important markers in the streetscape. People include mass-produced brand associations in with their perspectives of a local street. The globally marketed image, which builds up strong recognition value, also attracts potential shoppers to previously unknown areas.

Single landmarks, unless they are dominant ones, are likely to be weak references by themselves. Their recognition requires sustained attention. If they are clustered, however, they reinforce each other in a more than additive way. Familiar observers develop landmark clusters out of most unpromising material, and depend upon an integrated set of signs, of which each member may be too weak to register. The marks may also be arranged in a continuous sequence, so that a whole journey is identified and made comfortable by a familiar succession of detail. –Kevin Lynch, The Image of the City, p. 101)

 

Urban Planning 101: Shops Give Away Bags

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The effectiveness of advertising, endorses marketing strategists’ efforts further to strengthen the sustainable distribution of their bags through unusual design, (hopefully) sustainable, waterproof materials, and the potential for re use. From global brand labels to the local baker and food store, everyone is trying to communicate his or her particular advertising message via unusual bags.

For those looking for stimulating cocktail stories, this from the history of shopping bags.

Walter H. Deubner ran a small grocery store in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was looking for a way to give his business a boost.

By Careful observation, he noticed that his customer’s purchases were limited by what they could conveniently carry. So he set about devising a way to help them buy more purchases at one time. It took him four years to develop the right solution: a prefabricated package, inexpensive, easy to use and strong enough to carry up to seventy-five pounds worth of groceries.

Damn him.

Then, in 1852, Francis Wolle and his brother invented the first paper bag in Jacobsburg PA. By 1870, the invention was enhanced and the paper bag found its way to retail, creating the first game changer. Paper bags remained the standard for carrying groceries for over 100 years, through the growth of the cities and the development of suburban grocery chains. 

The next great game changer was developed in 1975. At that time, the first plastic bags were introduced at retail, beginning with industry pioneers such as JC Penney, Sears, and Kroger. Plastic was a great solution to the challenges and opportunities of the time: Wood pulp was now expensive, oil was cheap. Plastic was considered the technology of the future! Making plastic bags required less energy, less water, the finished bags took up less space, was more durable for customers, and cost about 1/3 the cost of paper bags.

Around 2000, the world recognized that we had to do something to dispose of these durable bags which were staring to pile up in our environment and were killing our marine and wild life. We realized that over 4 billion bags are littered per year, enough to circle the earth 63 times! Infrastructure was developed for recycling bags, which had the potential to be a great solution to the bag problem. However, only about 7% of the 400 billion bags produced per year in the US alone actually make it to recycling. 

Environmentalists began lobbying their legislatures around 2005 to begin banning the use of plastic bags at retail. Over 63 communities have now embarked down this path. 

ACTIONS:

 

RESOURCES:

Why The Seattle Hub Is Special, Get Involved

The Hub is an international Co Op of co working and community spaces for social enterprise. The Hub Seattle occupies the first two floors of the building, as such it is one of the largest of the 50 hubs in the world.

But this location is special. It is special because on the third floor is the headquarters of Social Venture Partners, a global non profit made up of tens of thousands of business professionals who use their business expertise to fund and mentor other non profits. One the fourth floor is the headquarters of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, a ten year old, accredited business school, first in the world to teach a sustainable MBA. The Hub is also home to Unitus, SLOW Money Northwest, Fledge, and others.

Added together, it’s a pretty high concentration of social good.

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Check out Fledge’s upcoming event: 

Demo Day
Wednesday, May 7th, 6pm-9pm
fledge.co/demo-day

Not your typical Demo Day but instead a night of inspirational talks by the “fledglings”, sharing their stories of how they intend (or already are) making the world a better place. Special guest Mal Warick, author of “The Business Solution to Poverty“. Early bird tickets available until Saturday.  Buy yours today.

Features stories from:

  • Activate Hub – A platform for finding the people and events
  • Broad Street Maps – Bringing mapping solutions to global health organizations
  • Distributed Energy Management – A unique approach to energy conservation
  • EA Fruits Farm – Fruit and vegetable production, aggregations, and distribution in Tanzania
  • Karibu Solar – Affordable solar lighting solutions for Tanzania and East Africa
  • Juabar – Solar cellphone recharging kiosks in Tanzania and East Africa
  • Plus updates from some of the Fledge graduates

Seattle 2035: Planning for Seattle’s Future

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Today is the last day of the official commenting period for their three planning alternatives. Theywant to hear your thoughts on how and where Seattle should grow. You can comment on their site or send an email at 2035@seattle.gov.

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Reblogged from post: 4/21/2013

By 2035, we expect 120,000 people, 70,000 households, and 115,000 jobs to come to Seattle. That’s an increase of about 20% from what we currently have today. How should we plan for that growth? We want your ideas.

Washington State has a law called the Growth Management Act that requires cities to anticipate and manage growth and steer it to already developed areas in order to protect natural resources. Seattle does this through its comprehensive plan, a 20-year roadmap for the city’s future. The plan promotes a development pattern called the urban village strategy, which encourages new jobs and housing to the designated urban centers and urban villages in the city. There are six urban centers (like Northgate, University District, Downtown, and Capitol Hill) and 24 urban villages (like Columbia City, Lake City, Morgan Junction, and Fremont). This approach strengthens neighborhood business districts and lets make the most out of the roads, transit, and utilities we already have.

So how do we plan for the next 20 years? That’s the central question we’re asking with Seattle 2035, a citywide conversation about how and where to accommodate new households and jobs within the city. Where should growth be focused? What investments do we need to make in things like parks, transit, and infrastructure to maintain a livable city and healthy economy? How can we protect the vital natural resources that sustain us? How do we work towards greater racial and socioeconomic equity? Our goal is to leverage growth to build better neighborhoods, create jobs, and work towards a more sustainable Seattle.

Over the next year, we will discuss and study a full range of topics: land use, transportation, housing, economic development, environment, services, infrastructure, and more. There are nine guiding principles shaping our work, and we’re asking a wide range of stakeholders and communities how we can plan for a better city. What matters to you? What are the most pressing issues facing Seattle as it plans for the future? How can we capitalize on population and job growth while maintaining our quality of life? We want to hear from you as we think about Seattle’s future.

To learn more about the plan, visit 2035.seattle.gov or follow us on Twitter andFacebook.

Urban Planning 101: Tourists Carry Bags

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The street has always been and will continue to be, a form of advertising.  From small entrance signs to large display windows and billboards to plastic and paper bags, a broad spectrum of marketing strategies has developed.

Even with the sustainability movement, shopping bags have become an increasingly popular object of advertisement. They are constantly present on the public street, they catch the eye of potential customers, and used by global brands and bakeries alike. Bags are personal. When the merchant hands over the bag (as advertising philosophy suggests), it becomes “my bag.” This contributes to why bags help strengthen brands and help with recognition.

Full bags create positive associations and guide tourists across long distances. With reusable bags shoppers choose more organic and environmentally friendly items, and they also buy more indulgent foods, such as cookies and ice cream, compared to other shoppers. The bag colors may have been strategically placed to influence your spending. For instance black bags, the signature color of sophistication (hello, little black dress), dominates high-end makeup packaging and can even make inexpensive blushes and lipsticks seem more upscale. 

ACTIONS:

 

RESOURCES:

98104: Responsiveness, And Why We Don’t Have It

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In this country, citizens across a broad spectrum of diverse backgrounds don’t often come together over a cause. We just don’t organize much anymore. Our rights and liberties were bought and fought for some time ago. Or so we think —

We expect our water and electricity to just work. We expect to easily cross neighborhood boundaries for markets, brunches, or parks without incident. We hope our voting mechanisms work, and when they don’t, we are outraged – and tell everyone on Facebook things should be different.

Generally speaking, most citizens have very little insight to what government actually does. And government probably feels that citizens are entitled, complacent, and whiney. Both perspectives are accurate.

This didn’t just happen, it’s been in the works for a very long time. The system in which we operate (society/neighborhoods and government) are not really designed for openness and responsiveness. They are designed to run as efficiently as possible for the most people possible. When was the last time your water didn’t work, or your electricity? When is the last time you really went without, in terms of basic government provisions? Though we usually fail to notice it, government programs and policies improve our daily lives in innumerable ways. 

The problem is, the people in government are stuck in processes that close them off to the daily lives of its citizens. Government is designed for top-down messages, most of which people struggle to make relevant to their lives (if they consider what government has to say at all). The system is breaking down and everyone knows it. The failure here is lack of real leadership.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in neighborhood meetings, where government tries to put its best foot forward and in the first sentence, pretty much loses its audience. After about 14 years of living in the Central District and Pioneer Square, I’ve seen first hand the inequality of neighborhood safety/protection and general funding priorities. Nowhere has this been more apparent than the latest incident in Pioneer Square.

In response to neighborhood unrest, the Mayor had two events: Stand For Compassion, and a Neighborhood Summit. Both could not have been more disappointing. The introduction of this article pretty much sums it up.

Seattle’s soul might be said to reside in its neighborhoods, but often immersion in neighborhood politics feels more a ride in the back of a Metro bus.

Still, the recent Neighborhood Summit was important. Seattle’s disaffected hinterlands — almost anyplace outside of downtown — carry a lot of anger and distrust about city government’s intentions and responsiveness. The neighborhoods were asked to plan for growth; most did, then saw their plans shelved, overrun by events, or ignored. Some neighborhoods have had to absorb more than their fair share of growth, others have seen affordable housing shunted aside for high-priced high-rises, most have seen potholes proliferate.

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“It’s harder to make eye contact here than it is in New York. You need to come check out #uptown #parks we have a great grant writer.”

Aside from the out of touch presentations of the meeting, there were a number of lost opportunities at this event. Two stand out:

  1. Uninterested & Understaffed Police

A first miss was a lack of actively attentive, and interested police presence.

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This was the 911 booth.   The SPD had an unmanned table with a few brochures on the end.

Most of the time, the cop on duty was on his cell phone.

Most of the time, the cop on duty was on his cell phone.

And he certainly wasn't manning the twitter feed.

And he certainly wasn’t manning the twitter feed.

UPDATE: It may sound like I’m being hard on the police department…and to some degree I am. While the Mayor doesn’t staff the neighborhood, the police that are here aren’t stepping in on bad behavior. Our neighborhood has numerous examples of de policing and slow response from 911:

  • “I’ve watched a sailor try to sexually assault a veeeery drunk girl at Seafair last year in the outside doorway by Seattle Fitness. The best was watching her throw up all over his little Popeye suit. I then turned on my bullhorn and informed him I could see everything, and he’d better let her go.”
  • “I’ve watched a drunk dude get in his car and drive right into the back of the car parked in front of him. At least that one brought the cops around. “
  • “I’ve watched a car rear end a cab in the intersection of 1st Ave South and King. Then the two guys got out of the car, and started beating the cab driver, while I watched 3 different SPD cars drive by, slow down, then speed up and drive away. When I called 911 about it, the dispatcher said they were coming, and when I told her 3 other cars had just driven by, she told me to watch MY tone.”
  • “SPD has almost zero presence. I know Cowgirls is supposed to have their front door shut after 9, but I can hear those servers barking on the mike in there from MY BEDROOM while I’m watching Saturday Night Live. I actually know the playlist Thursday-Saturday, because I hear it in MY BEDROOM.”
  • “It’s Trinity and Fuel I can’t stand. Especially Fuel. The amount of ridiculous illegal activity that goes on in the parking lot across from it drives me mad. Watching a drunk guy stumble out of there and start smashing car windows as he walks to his own car is just one of the more time things I’ve seen happen there.”

 

 

2. No One To Man The ‘Hoods

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The Neighborhood Summit had No Neighborhood Reps

A second miss was a lack of city council presence at the event, as well as neighborhood organizations. The tables were “claimed” by neighborhood residents, whom politely asked that other neighborhoods not sit at their table. There was also not enough seating for everyone. The wrong kind of seating, audience style, did not facilitate conversation. And not enough table seating created territories.

 

Recommendation: Lay a foundation for Meaningful Participation.

  1. Ask for Meaningful Contributions.

Too often, we invite people to participate in ways that are trivial or just plain useless. People don’t want to be talked-at. Society today is about two-way communication. So few large institutions really understand what this means. They need to take a page from Gavin Newsom. “In a world where people can do anything at the touch of a button—shop, communicate, do research, publish a blog, transfer money—government cannot keep functioning in a twentieth-century mind-set.” It is about openness over control. As a rule, ask important questions, the answers to which should benefit the organization, or your own life. If the question being asked of more than 10 people provides boring responses, you’re asking the wrong question.

What would have come of having easels throughout the room with questions such as:

  • When crime happens in my neighborhood I wish, that….
  • When I see homeless in my parks, I wish that…
  • When I see litter around my streets, I wonder…
  1. Scaffold The Experience.

A blank page can be a scary thing, but give people a list to start from, and suddenly everyone is an executive – leverage that. Scaffolding provides a framework for participation. It works best when the framework matches the task at hand. If you want people to write a letter, give them one to start from and let them modify it. If you want people to vote on top issues, put ten of the top issues around the room and let them vote with stickers on which ones need to be focused on for that conversation. Have City Council members host a round-robin conversation with groups of 8-10 people on that particular issue…share feedback and outcomes. When tools fit the experience, it’s simultaneously immersive and focuses people on the task at hand. The experience adds valuable content to the process government is trying to guide.

  1. Honor The Participant.

Don’t “shush” them. Not everyone came for four hours of listening to data from a year ago. They came to collaborate on something common to all of them. And, not everyone wants to actively participate. The majority would often prefer to stand back and watch. If you are inviting participation that is highly involved, make sure to build in secondary ways to participate. This might mean voting on favorite entries, commenting, or snapping pictures. The more public the participatory experience, the more likely people are to move from spectating to participating. When you can watch other people do it first, it builds confidence and trust that this is a worthwhile activity.

On April 5, the room was filled with willing minds and hands. So much energy and enthusiasm just lost as presentations droned on with dated information. The neighborhood summits could have been and still could be a great local hub event with hackathons dedicated to solving community problems. Here is an example.