Events

Microsoft New England Picks: 3 Not-To-Miss Events This Week

Microsoft New England Picks: 3 Not-To-Miss Events This Week

With summer in full swing and July hitting the ground running, here are our top picks for events not to miss this week:

OpenNebula TechDay Boston

1) OpenNebula TechDay Boston
Monday, June 29, 9am – 5:30pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @opennebula

The OpenNebula TechDays are full day events to learn about OpenNebula with a hands-on cloud installation and operation workshop, and presentations from community members and users. These events are targeted at cloud architects, data center admins, systems admins, systems integrators, DevOps architects, and solutions architect. The emphasis is to find local speakers and users to come together and talk about things that they care about most, and to share stories from their experiences using OpenNebula.

Net Impact Boston's 8th Annual Speed Networking Event2) Net Impact Boston’s 8th Annual Speed Networking Event
Monday, June 29, 6pm – 9pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @NIBoston #nibevents

You’ll hear from our VIP’s as they share their career stories as well as have the opportunity to learn and network with all of the attendees at the event in a round robin format. The event will promote more in-depth discussions as you can cater the topics of conversation to your interests in this more intimate setting. Attendees can choose which VIP’s spark their interest and elect to have more time to hear these selected VIP’s stories. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or new to the sustainability world, this event will be a worthwhile and fun experience!

Featured VIPs:

• Ashley Stanley – Founder/Executive Director, Lovin’ Spoonfuls

• Erica Mattison – Legislative Director, Environmental League of Massachusetts

• Elizabeth Turnbull Henry – Sr Manager for Energy and Environment, adidas group

• Tedd Saunders – Green Hotel Pioneer, Saunders Hotel Group

• Graham Sinclair – Principal, SinCo Sustainable Investment Consulting

MassChallenge Presents: 1000 Pirates3) MassChallenge Presents: 1000 Pirates
Wednesday, July 1, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
World Trade Center Pier | 200 Seaport Blvd | Boston
Twitter: @MassChallenge #1000Pirates

MassChallenge has teamed up with the Bay State Cruise Company to bring back the biggest party of the year. For a measly 10 dubloons, one may board the celebratory reunion happening on the Provincetown II, laden with food, drink and music. 1,000 Pirates is a glorious opportunity to meet up with other MassChallenge alumni classes and this year’s finalists. Those who come dressed in their best pirate gear will be awarded prizes.

 

Microsoft New England Picks: 4 Not-To-Miss Events This Week

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June is in full swing! Here are our top picks for tech events this week.

6Kgjr9gK1) 2015 MITX Data Summit: “The Art & Science of Data”
Tuesday, June 23, 8am – 5pm

Microsoft Technology Center | 255 Main Street | Cambridge
Twitter: @MITX #MITXData

The MITX Data Summit will explore the ever-changing landscape of the latest data strategies for marketers. How do you balance the art and science of data and creativity? This full-day summit will bring together top minds in the industry to share proven best practices for business success.

Keynote Speakers:

  • John Costello, President, Global Marketing & Innovation, Dunkin Brands, Inc.​
  • Brian Tilzer, Chief Digital Officer, CVS Caremark Corporation

For more information, head to mitx.org.

11391311_1667301020172163_5677147775632088134_n2) SkyLab Boston Open-House
Tuesday, June 23, 6pm – 8pm

@ Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building | 2300 Washington St | Boston
Twitter: @DudleySkyLab

SkyLab Boston will be hosting their first open house on the sixth floor roof deck of the Bruce C. Bolling building in Dudley Square. Stop by and learn more about SkyLab Boston and their plans to promote innovation and entrepreneurship to individuals and local businesses in the Roxbury area.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 5.48.33 PM3) Global Venture Café sponsored by Basis Technology
Thursday, June 25, 3pm – 8pm
@ Venture Cafe | 5th Floor of the CIC | One Broadway | Cambridge
Twitter: @VentureCafe

Thursday’s international-themed Café offers you a chance to think and act globally. Start by reserving your appointments for Office Hours now. Then, in between your meetings on Thursday, mix and mingle in the Café before choosing from the cascade of Feature Events, including TCN UpStart Roundtable in the Cancun conference room in the Café and 3 panels in the Havana conference room outside of the Café. Also, find resources and learn about opportunities to take your startup abroad at Info Tables located inside the Café during the intermission in between panels.

Feature Events:

  • 4:00 – 5:00 P.M. | Foreign Talent — an agent for growth in the American Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem — Potential and Challenges
  • 4:00 – 6:00 P.M. | TCN UpStart Roundtable
  • 5:30 – 6:30 P.M. | International Expansion — When and Where is it Right for You?
  • 6:45 – 7:45 P.M. | Building A Global Brand – Tips from the Experts

For more info on featured events + Info Tables, check out vencafe.org.

RailsBridge-boston4) Railsbridge Boston
Friday, June 26 – Saturday, June 27, 7pm – 9pm
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @RailsBridgeBos 

RailsBridge Boston is a two-day workshop that teaches Ruby on Rails to women in the Boston community.

Do you dream of someday writing software that helps people and improves the world? Led by an all-volunteer team of seasoned, enthusiastic Ruby and Rails developers, the workshop introduces women of all backgrounds to the concepts, tools, and techniques of Ruby and Rails development. Our audience is those with no or little programming experience.

We welcome you to the Boston Ruby community. Whatever your goal is in learning to program, we hope to connect you with the tools to take the next step.

Applications of Civic Media and Evaluating their Impact, Success and Metrics in Different Fields

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#bostoncivic panel | Photo via @EngageLab

The beauty of civic media is that it can be applied to an amalgamation of different disciplines: government, art, mathematics, etc. However, creating one methodological approach for civic media implementation and measurement is arduous, if not impossible, as each field has its own set of standards.

For example, a civic media arts initiative may not resemble a civic media government initiative. Furthermore, the “arts” and “government” arguably cater to different audiences. Therefore the type of impact and success by each civic media initiative will be inherently unique.

In the “Metrics and Methods” in Civic Media Conference sponsored by the Engagement Lab at Emerson College, our speakers grappled with the provocative questions: “Given this proliferation of methods and variety of origin points from which people are approaching this civic media topic, what should the goals of the leaders of this field be? Who is this research for?”

Microsoft is proud to have been a primary sponsor of this event as it encouraged an in depth conversation between academics who focus on media and civics, with professionals specializing in designing, implementing and aiding civic interventions. This specific session contained dedicated speakers, each of whom added a different perspective on metrics, methods and applications.

Catherine D’Ignazio
Art and Civic Media
Catherine D’Ignazio is redefining how participatory art can influence our civic goals. According to D’Ignazio, art can be a research method for activating civic imagination. The project D’Ignazio highlighted was The City Formerly Known as Cambridge which was initiated through the Institute for Infinitely Small Things. In this project D’Ignazio and her team attempted to rectify a problem they identified within the city of Cambridge, MA: many street names and public places had Anglo-Saxon name derivatives. In response to this, her group held created a multifaceted approached in which they researched the origins of the Anglo-Saxon street names, informed the public about these “infinitely small histories” and then held an outdoor convention at which they invited members of the local community to “rename” the spaces. These newly renamed places were then put on a map, and “The City Formerly Known as Cambridge” commenced.

Matthew Battles
Media in the Arts and Humanities

Matthew Battles is re-imagining civic media as a catalyst for understanding the arts and humanities. How can media change the value of the material we produce? Battles’s project focused on history of libraries: he explored the Harvard depository in Western, MA. With the help of colleagues, Battles created a video of the depository to better understand how the storage unit of a library system works. His hope was to contrast the physical representation of a traditional library (i.e. Widener Library in Harvard Yard) and the concept of a temporary holding unit for books (the depository). Battles then expanded on this concept by questioning the “social dimensions” of the library system as well. He challenged the audience to ask: “What does it mean to be an employee at the Harvard depository, but have no interaction with campus life?” To find out more, look at <librarybeyondthebook.org>.

Cold Storage Teaser Trailer from metaLAB(at)Harvard on Vimeo.

Justeen Hyde
Gaming for Change

Introducing a new perspective to the discussion on civic media, Justeen Hyde stressed the importance of utilizing new technology platforms to address issues in health care. Hyde represented the Institute for Community Health, a research and consulting firm that started in the early 2000s in a response to the pervasive problem that hospitals were unaware of the needs of the community they served.

In an attempt to engage more community members in discussions pertaining to health care, the Institute for Community Health partnered with the Community PlanIT. Community PlanIT is a game platform that originated out of Emerson College’s Engagement Lab. In this “simulation,” members of a community can voice their opinions, give feedback on public projects and express substantial concerns about their neighborhood.

Within the version of the game introduced by the Institute for Community Health, players had three weeklong missions. While playing, there were also trivia questions and ways for constituents to gain extra points.

  1. Mission one was about “healthy people”.
  2. Mission two was about “healthy neighborhoods”.
  3. Mission three was about “The City of Boston”.

Overall Justeen considered this initiative to be a success. 488 people played the game and 60% of those who played said that they had not had prior involvement with the Institute for Community Health. Moreover, there were many advantages with data collection from this game simulation: citizens could play/participate at their own convenience and the questions had been specifically constructed to engage the players.

Community PlanIt Primer from Engagement Lab on Vimeo.

Sarah Williams
Open Data In Nairobi, Kenya

Sarah Williams is striving to employ civic media to (1) expose urban patterns and (2) affect policy change. As the acting director of the Civic Design Lab, Williams spearheaded a case study about Matatus in Nairobi, Kenya. Public transportation routes for Matatu were ambiguous: there was little public data pertaining to Matatu stops, routes and operating times. Williams’ group wanted to make a dataset to account for this data-deficiency and utilized the ubiquitous nature of cell phones for data collection.

Through engaging local academics, the Matatu Association and Matatu drivers, and the GTFS technology of cell phones, Willaims’ group created a paper map to show the Matatu routes. Furthermore, her team helped with the creation of Ma3Route, a mobile app that also displays Matatu traffic. One of the biggest successes of the program was when the local government celebrated the initiative of these new Matatu digital maps and certified them as official maps of the city.

Williams argued that the best way to measure success in an open data project is to observe how/if others leverage the data created to generate their own policy changes. Williams noted at the World Bank now uses the Matatu dataset.

Neighborhood Data: How can we use it to our advantage?

Neighborhood Data: How can we use it to our advantage?

Neighborhood data. What do we mean by it? Who’s collecting it? How is it being collected? How is it being used?

Increasingly, our society talks of “data-driven decision making”. In the more quantitative aspects of life, this has the potential to be relatively straightforward. However, cities and other jurisdictions are using data to drive decisions that impact citizens in their neighborhoods. Communities, by virtue of them being a human construct, means that it isn’t simple or appropriate to generalize a neighborhood to a number, set of numbers, or a color on a map. How do we ensure that data-driven decision making in neighborhoods reflects the reality of life in that neighborhood? How do we ensure members of a community have agency when it comes to conclusions being made based on that data?

Last week’s Conversation in Civic Innovation sought to address this issue. In spite of the beautiful weather, we had a strong turnout at NERD to hear four data specialists from the government, startup and urban planning space discuss their work with neighborhood data, comprised of Holly St. Clair, Elsa Sze, Chris Horne, and Greg Lipstein of DrivenData.

We then broke into groups to discuss topics like appropriate data sets, visualization of data, engaging local communities with the data, as well as leveraging private sector data alongside open data.

The evening’s discussion centered around four major questions:

  1. How do we decide which data set to use? Are some data sets more effective, or more appropriate to use, than others?
  2. Is the data set complete? Was there a portion of the population over- / under-represented? How will this skew any initiatives going forward with the community?
  3. What are the best ways to combine data sets for (1) effectiveness, (2) visualization, (3) end results, to be defined by each group?
  4. How do we get people involved in collection process of data? Are we using the right tools to analyze our data?

Each speaker outlined key points once the group reconvened from the break-out sessions.  Elsa Sze, of Agora, for example, stated the importance of data visualization, and how Agora lays out key municipal data in a comprehensive manner. In addition, governments must state a pre-determined level of success prior to analysis. Data should be viewed in a vertical fashion rather than the traditional horizontal view. Elsa proposed creating a central database to share best practices as a possible solution.

Holly St. Clair, of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, provided additional feedback. Holly also stated that change is one of the only constant trends we can rely, especially with ”big data”. She also agreed with Elsa, expressing the need for accessible useful data.

Chris J. Horne’s group emphasized the community’s desire for data to help provide solutions to neighborhood problems. In addition, collection methods should be representative of the entire community, not just a particular subset of the population. To build on Elsa and Holly’s points, they emphasized the importance of creating a sub-culture of effective data collection.

Lastly, the conversation with Greg Lipstein pointed out the lack of resources, stating that we should use all the open data available to us. Their solution was a method using combined public and private data to help the government perform better.

As the facilitator for the evening, a few things stood out to me:

  • The audience was diverse in terms of background, experience and area of interest. Often, when you host an event as a technology company, you often get primarily technologists in the room. As always, there were some of those at our Civic Innovation Conversation, but they were greatly outnumbered by community representatives (including local government), students, and private citizens who wanted to learn more and discuss this topic.
  • There is a strong interest in understanding how individuals can be involved in the data collection, feedback and decision-making process. I got the sense that people wanted to roll up their sleeves and learn by doing. In other words, people were new to this idea of data-driven decision making, but they weren’t going to let their newness to the topic stop them from being fully involved.
  • I was very happy to see the conversations emerge, both in the small groups as well as at the networking event afterwards. As the evening progressed, the lines blurred between the panelists and the participants, since we are all “experts” when it comes to living in our neighborhoods.

And speaking of conversations, we at Microsoft New England, as well as our friends at Venture Café, would like to keep this conversation moving forward. Let us know what’s on your mind when it comes to neighborhoods, innovation and data.

Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM

Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM

This past weekend, we took part in the 45th annual Boston Pride Parade. The Parade, held on Saturday, is part of Boston’s annual Pride Week. A record-breaking 25,000 people marched this year, celebrating the Boston area’s LGBTQ community while bringing together organizations, corporations, and individuals in the name of equality.

Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM

Microsoft New England had a group of about 25 marchers representing Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Employees at Microsoft (GLEAM) marching in this years parade. Throughout the march, which began in Copley Square, wrapped through the South End, and finished at Government Center, our team carried banners urging parade-goers to ‘Do Great Things’ and handed out swag — Microsoft beach balls, whistles, necklaces, chap sticks, and more — in support of the Boston LGBTQ community.

Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM

Clippy, the paperclip from Microsoft Word, also joined us as we marched along the route, posing for photos with fans and fellow mascots dressed for the occasion. Along the entire parade route, attendees cheered along with us, for us, AND for Clippy, and showed their support for Microsoft’s ‘This is Me’ campaign, particularly as the parade reached downtown Boston and the audience grew denser.

Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM   Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM   Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM

GLEAM isn’t just present during Pride, though. Year-round, the organization serves to promote workplace diversity and visibility, spreading awareness about the LGBTQ community and promoting LGBTQ-friendly changes in the workplace environment. As part of Microsoft’s commitment to workplace diversity and acceptance, the company was one of the first to offer employee benefits to same-sex domestic partners, and continues to strive for an open, diverse workplace environment that doubles as a safe space for all.

Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM

Happy Pride Month to all!

Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM

For more pics of GLEAM at the 2015 Boston Pride Parade, head to our Facebook Page.

Learn more about Microsoft’s actions toward workplace diversity with Microsoft GLEAM here.

Microsoft New England Picks: 4 Not-to-Miss Events This Week

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June is just getting started! Here are our top picks for events this week!

mitentforumMIT Enterprise Forum Cambridge’s 2015 Startup Spotlight
Monday, June 15: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge, MA 
Twitter: @Mitefcmb | #StartupSpotlight

The Startup Spotlight brings together 400+ innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, corporate business development and business professionals for a unique, interactive and delicious networking event.

The audience will have the opportunity to vote for their favorites in three fun categories:

  • Company I Want to Have a Beer With
  • Most Likely to Develop a Cult Following
  • Future Unicorn

IDF 615Interaction Design Foundation Boston/Wakefield Mash-up Monthly 
Tuesday, June 16: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge, MA
Twitter: @Interacting

The IxDF Boston/IxDF Wakefield is a small group that meets on a monthly basis at the New England Research & Development Center. 

The events are focused on getting seasoned and new UX designers together to share thoughts and experiences with designing great user experiences. Meetings take place to network, practice promoting yourself, and do a bit of learning! 

Each new member will be asked a challenging question to bring out the best in them and provide them some conversation pieces when meeting peer members!

biotechBig Data Gets Personal: Transforming Healthcare in the Age of Wearable Tech|
Tuesday, June 16: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge, MA
Twitter: @BioConBoston

From fitness bands to ingestible sensors, sensor tech has the potential to drastically change our daily lives. Well-known consumer technology companies, such as Fitbit and Jawbone help wearers keep track of their daily activity; sensors built into watches by Apple and Samsung can measure heart rate throughout the day; and pioneers in digestible sensors such as Proteus Digital Health are developing systems that can track health with metrics from within the body. Companies such as MC10 are pushing the limits of wearables by developing the Biostamp, a sensor that can measure temperature, movement, heart rate, and more within a device that is the size of two postage stamps. As these devices become more ubiquitous, the “connected human” will not only be able to monitor health metrics about him/herself in real-time, but also be able to share that data with healthcare professionals and other individuals. How will we adapt to this fast-approaching reality and what challenges remain to utilize this technology for improving human health?

scc_logo2_notext_smallComSciCon 2015: The national science communication leadership conference for graduate students
Thursday, June 18 – Saturday, June 20: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge, MA

ComSciCon is the premier workshop on science communication for graduate students in science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM) fields nationwide. Attendees convene discuss and develop innovative methods and programs focused on communicating cutting-edge research in STEM fields to broad and diverse audiences, beyond just practicing experts in the field.  Over the three days of the workshop program, attendees engage in interactive panel discussions, writing and peer review workshops, and poster sessions where they share and provide feedback on their experiences and ideas.

RECAP: Personal Democracy Forum Highlights the Power of Civic Tech

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This past weekend, we were thrilled to attend the 2015 Personal Democracy Forum (PDF), a venture combining some of the brightest and most motivated minds in civic technology. Throughout the course of two days, we heard talks on community work, government progress, and social justice all being propelled forward by the work of civic tech. Best of all, we got to see the community engaged both inside and out of PDF through the use of social media, as Civicist hosted a live stream of main stage talks and Twitter users worldwide joined in the conversation using #PDF15.

We’ve gathered some of our favorite moments from the conference in tweets below. Thank you to everyone who shared the power of civic technology with us!

Microsoft New England Picks: 5 Not-to-Miss Events This Week

Untitled design (3)June is in full swing! Here are our top picks for this week.

Microsoft New England Picks: 4 Not-To-Miss Events This WeekSocial Venture Partners Boston Think Tankathon
Tuesday, June 9: 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm

@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge, MA
Twitter: @SVPBoston

Social Venture Partners Boston invests in Greater Boston nonprofits that are helping children, young adults, and their families thrive. We invest our monetary resources (in long-term grants) and talents (as pro-bono consultants) to support mid-level nonprofits as they hone their service models, invest in their people, stabilize their operations, and think strategically about growth.

During SVP Boston’s Think Tankathon, our Grantees will deliver 1-minute rapid-fire presentations where they will share a specific challenge they are facing. Tapping into the collective knowledge and talent in the room, SVP Partners and their guests will then join in group conversations with up to 3 Grantees – tackling the challenges at hand.

We will begin with a social hour, followed by welcoming remarks, rapid-fire presentations, and 3 break-out sessions.

Research in the Mo(ve)ment: Civic Media, Political Unrest, and the Role of the University
Tuesday, June 9: 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge, MA
Twitter: @EngageLab

Join a discussion on the role of research in unfolding movements like #BlackLivesMatter. How can educators provide context and reflection in a rapidly unfolding and politicized media climate? And what role can research and researchers play in the formation of public discourse? With these tensions as our starting point, we will have a discussion with a range of researchers from both academia and activism.

civictechbos-header (1)How Data Helps Neighborhoods Grow
Wednesday, June 10: 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge, MA
Twitter: @MSNewEngland | @VentureCafe | #CivicTechBos 

Non-profits, community organizations, civic start-ups and cities are increasingly integrating data into the decision-making process.  As we accumulate additional data and, questions are starting to emerge about how to use this information.  Join us on Wednesday as we discuss these emerging questions and the impact data has on our neighborhoods.

Found in Translation Graduation 2015
Saturday, June 13: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm1432226693
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge, MA
Twitter: @Found1nt

Found in Translation trains limited-income bilingual women to become medical interpreters, and is very excited to be hosting its 4th annual graduation. This is a special moment for the members of the class to celebrate their hard work and completion of a very difficult course. Graduation is also a time for the organization to reflect on how lucky it is to be working with such amazing women.On June 13, a potluck-style event involving roughly 120 people (including students, family members, staff members, etc.) will be held.

2015 Boston Pride Parade with GLEAM
Saturday, June 13: 12:00 pm 
@ Copley Square | Boston, MA
Twitter: @bostonpride | #wickedproud

Boston Pride produces events and activities to achieve inclusivity, equality, respect, and awareness in Greater Boston and beyond. Fostering diversity, unity, visibility, and dignity, we educate, communicate, and advocate by building and strengthening community connections.

GLEAM‘s impact is visible throughout Microsoft. It works to drive LGBT-friendly changes in company policies and the work environment, provide support and networking opportunities for our members, and promote activities within Microsoft that raise awareness about our LGBT community.

 

Is Personal Democracy Forum for Me?

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Conferences like Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) may be attended by tech and civic leaders, but with live-streaming technology and Twitter, we were pleased to see many people joining in from outside the conference. That had us wondering — is PDF just for those in the tech and civic  industries?
Our answer?: No way.

In a blur of powerful speeches, breakout sessions, cat photos, and leaders coming together, today’s PDF session showed what civic technology is all about: a variety of people approaching a variety of civic issues with a variety of solutions. And that means a variety of people — not just industry workers.

From public engagement to civic design to issues with big data, today’s speakers addressed pathways we can carve together to bring our communities closer and forward in technology. Xavier Leonard of the City of San Diego’s Civic Innovation Lab motivated us to hack government engagement as citizens. Jess Kutch of Coworker.org told us the story of a Starbucks employee who showed the company that employee engagement is beyond valuable. Deanna Zandt made us feel “all the feelz” as she showed how vulnerability and a lack of transparency on social media combine to make us misrepresent ourselves. And Dante Berry showed us how the same social media channels can be used as a catalyst for direct, community-based social change.

Today’s breakout sessions included discussions of “what’s next” in technology, brainstorming sessions, and direct conversations about the future of our communities. And these are tasks we are partaking in as citizens, not just as tech workers. We’re helping issues that affect our neighbors, our family, and our government — issues that we can work on with our neighbors, our family, and our government.

This year’s PDF is for everyone. And we want you to join us. Although registration is now closed, the conference isn’t — PDF is staying online to keep the discussion open and encourage others to help make a difference.

Follow along tomorrow as they wrap up the good work. Civic Hall is hosting a livestream here, and we’re all tweeting along using #PDF15.

See the full Personal Democracy Forum agenda here.

National Day of Civic Hacking Embodies Civic Innovation

In my work as a Civic Engagement Manager, people often ask about civic innovation, civic technology and civic media: What is it? How can I get involved? Code for Boston’s National Day of Civic Hacking (NDoCH) is one way to answer these questions. The National Day of Civic Hacking is the embodiment of civic innovation: citizens working together to enhance the community we live in with new and creative ideas. NDoCH is a terrific way to explore civic innovation, get involved and have fun over the course of a weekend.

I sat down with Kristen Weber of Code for Boston to hear about the NDoCH activities planned for this upcoming weekend (June 5-7). I want to stress Kristen’s point below that this hackathon is for EVERYONE. You don’t have to be a programmer, developer or designer – varied perspectives and experiences are what make these events great. I hope to see you there!
—Aimee Sprung

National Day of Civic Hacking Embodies Civic Innovation

  1. What is the National Day of Civic Hacking?

The National Day of Civic Hacking (or NDoCH) is a nationwide event that brings together technologists, government workers, community members, and concerned citizens to collaborate in a number of ways to improve their cities and communities. Locally – and with the generous support of Microsoft New England – Code for Boston is excited to announce that our NDoCH event will span Friday evening, June 5th through Sunday, June 7th at the Microsoft offices in Kendall Square.

We’ll kick things off Friday evening with an opening reception and welcoming address. Our overarching theme for the weekend is Community Engagement so, to that end, we’ll follow the opening remarks with project pitches that aim to address problems of community engagement and empowerment in our cities and municipalities. After project pitches, teams will form so that, come Saturday morning, participants can hit the ground running and start working to address community problems.

On Saturday, we’ll begin with breakfast followed by some panel discussions in focus areas. Teams will then have all day to collaborate and work on their projects before their pitches on Sunday.

This year, on Saturday evening, we’re trying something new by hosting a series of IGNITE-style talks at the Venture Café at Cambridge Innovation Center. The evening will run from 7-10 pm and features a generous donation of delicious local beverages from Aeronaut Brewing Co. of Somerville. We’re hoping for a lively, engaging evening of fast-paced, energetic talks from speakers ranging from Cambridge City Councillor Nadeem Mazen, to Holly St. Clair of MAPC, to Micah Martin of Resilient Coders (and many more!)

On Sunday, teams will gather once again at the Microsoft offices to finish up their project work and pitch their ideas, discussions, and projects to all event attendees. We can’t wait to see what teams come up with!

  1. Who can/should participate in NDoCH?

To put it simply: everyone! Despite the name, NDoCH is not just for coders. Like all Code for Boston events, we encourage designers, developers, writers, researchers, policy wonks, urbanists, engaged citizens, city planners, or government workers to attend and get involved. Anyone with a good idea who cares about his or her community is welcome. It’s a big tent.

  1. What do you hope to accomplish at NDoCH?

Since our overall theme for the weekend is Community Engagement, we’d love to have some solid, actionable takeaways as to how to best engage traditionally overlooked or ignored communities in bettering the cities in which we all live and work. There is no one Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, or Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for that matter. We are all individuals with unique perspectives and experiences about what makes our cities great…and what needs improvement. We’d love to come out of the event with a way forward to further engage community groups by leveraging our own expertise and municipal partner relationships to foster engagement and empowerment.

  1. What happens after NDoCH – will the projects continue?

After the event, it is our hope that many of the projects and discussions will continue as part of Code for Boston’s weekly hack nights. Our group meets each Tuesday evening at CIC and we provide a space for people to continue to work on honing or developing their projects. While much of the work we do is technology-focused, that is by no means the rule. Teams are free to attend hack nights to continue to hone technology projects, discuss policy, or brainstorm further ideas for community engagement. We like to say that Code for Boston is part mission-driven non-profit, part technology meetup, part advocacy group, and part social club, and neither of those distinctions is more of less important than the others. Come on by, we’d love to have you!

To RSVP or to learn more about NDoCH or Code for Boston, visit our event page: https://ndochbos2015.splashthat.com/#