Our society is going through a troubling time. I feel a lot of anger, frustration, and helplessness and I hear those emotions reflected from people around me. People are feeling that their leaders are failing them, institutions are betraying their purposes, and standards of civilized behavior are decaying. We want to swim against this tide, to be part of a solution, but we often feel stuck, unsure of what to do or how to help.
When I go on-line to follow my favorite feeds or check the news, I often find my blood boiling and my eyes watering. However, when I step away from the screen — to go gleaning downtown with GleanSLO, or go to my Junto discussion group, or join an impromptu outdoor class on how to make elderberry flower wine, or strategize with a group planning a mobile shower trailer program to serve the homeless, or meet with the Project Tandem team — my dark mood lifts and I find hope in coming together with my neighbors to improve ourselves and the world around us.
I’m pretty sure the solution to healing our society is to strengthen that healthy part of civil life that I find when I step away from the screen and into my community. More than ever, we need to empower people to experiment with collaborative, grassroots solutions with their neighbors. The goal of the Directory of Stoke is to make it easier to make such things happen. The Directory of Stoke isn’t just a neat app, but a path to heal a damaged society.
From time to time we’re inevitably going to get caught up in the nitty-gritty of what we’re building. But we should remember to step back once in a while and look at the big picture. We all want to be part of the solution, and what we’re doing in Project Tandem is just that.
― David Gross, project manager, Project Tandem
The Project Tandem team is freshly back from the 2018 Stoke-Out Gathering at Live Oak Campground.
The event was part campout, part music festival, part interactive art, part skills-sharing workshops. All that and a balsz-out barrio barbecue and bacon & bubbly brunch.
The Directory of Stoke team added our own bit of flair to the proceedings with an information kiosk, updated daily with the schedule of events, and a whiteboard that participants could use to leave messages, announce impromptu events, or just decorate.
Our tech team also assembled an on-line version of the event schedule, which people could access via a QR-code available at our information kiosk.
The Stoke the World Foundation’s “Stoke-Out Gathering of 2018” is a few months away, and the Directory of Stoke team is already participating. We are working hard to make sure the early-access version of the Directory is most helpful to the gathering’s volunteer coordinators, who will be using it to organize their teams.
Our project team recently worked with Bonnie Primbsch of Ampersand Facilitative Services to grease the wheels of our project and figure out how to be most effective and fulfilled in our work. We also came up with a project metaphor. The Directory of Stoke is fun, low-friction, and helps people to work together to get where they want to go: if you squint, we look a bit like a tandem bicycle.
Our project is now listed on VolunteerSLO, and we have four volunteers wanted listings there (I encourage you to apply!):
If you like getting your hands dirty in open-source software, contact Ray Lee and he’ll show you how to clone the repo, build the latest incarnation of the Directory, and make improvements. We’ll be using some fun new technologies to prototype, program, build, test, and deploy a mobile- and web-friendly application. This project would be a good way for you to pick up some new skills (and add some in-demand buzzwords to your résumé).
I want to let you know where the Directory of Stoke project is now and what we’re doing next.
Our big focus now is to create a very basic alpha version of the Directory that people can start using right away and that is flexible enough that we can continue to add features to it as we go.
Two other Stoke the World projects have offered to test this alpha version by using it to organize their projects: the “Conspiracy of Joy” project, and the “Stoke the World Festival.”
This way, the Directory of Stoke team is not only helping to create one great Stoke the World project, but is also contributing to the success of two others.
Some of us on the Directory of Stoke team have been meeting with Conspiracy of Joy and STW Fest team members to determine what their requirements are. Our next step will be to create an infant version of the Directory of Stoke that meets the minimum requirements of each of these teams.
Once we roll that out and those teams start to use it, we can add new features — both to suit the evolving needs of those teams and to work towards our vision of how a full-featured Directory of Stoke will meet the needs of other stakeholders in the community and the general public.
On the implementation side of things, we immediately need more software designers, front-end and back-end web developers, people experienced in mobile-friendly UI design, build process experts, and quality assurance engineers. If you’d like to lend a hand in those areas, please let me know.
But although our focus right now is in kickstarting the software development process, the Directory of Stoke project is going to take more than software to make it succeed. We need a legal advisor, a fundraiser, someone with a good sense for social media community standards, a Spanish translator, people who can interview interested community members, people with an eye for branding and promotion, video editors, trainers, and a whole lot of other things besides.
As always: we’re looking not only for people who are already good at those things, but people who want to become good at those things and are eager to learn-by-doing.
Please drop me a line if you’d like to lend a hand.
Welcome to those of you who have joined our Directory of Stoke group since our kickoff party!
Here’s some background on how the project has gone so far, where we’re going with it now, and how you can help:
When the Stoke the World Foundation held its own kickoff party, one of the group activities we did was to choose projects for the Foundation to pursue. One of these was a “Directory of Stoke” that would help people discover ways to stoke the world.
We created a Directory of Stoke team to work on this project in alignment with the Stoke the World Foundation mission and core values (“Inspiring creative change in ourselves, our communities, and the world.” — “Empower others. Think big. Be open-minded. Make a positive and lasting impact. Act with empathy, integrity, and passion. Ask hard questions and challenge ourselves. Sugarcoat everything… in fun. Cultivate connection”).
“Directory of Stoke” was still a vague idea, so one of the first things we did was to survey people in the Stoke the World community about what they would like the Directory to do. You can see the survey results here.
We also researched local volunteer coordination tools and organizations, and existing software that might cover some of what we hope to accomplish (you can see some of this in-progress research here).
In a nutshell, we want to build a web/mobile-based tool that is a delight to use and easy to learn, and that accomplishes the following:
We’re early in the software design phase, and that design and its eventual implementation are going to take a lot of time and attention. This is — among other things — a big software project. But I say “among other things” because it’s going to take a lot more than software engineering to make this project succeed.
In alignment with the Stoke the World mission, we want this project to not only be about building a terrific tool, but about challenging ourselves. With this in mind, I encourage you to consider helping out not just in areas where you already have some expertise, but in areas where you’d like to do some learning-by-doing.
Here are some of the areas where you can help this project.
And that’s just what we’ve thought of so far. You probably have your own ideas for how you can help the Directory of Stoke succeed, and I’d love to hear them.
If you want to contribute but feel stalled or feel your motivation is flagging, I encourage you to reach out to our Head Motivation Focalizer (Head MoFo), Coco Herda, who will restoke your fire.
Summary: The Directory of Stoke project is making it easier for project/event organizers and participants/volunteers to find one another and the resources they need to make great things happen. We are currently firming up our feature list. We are looking for talented UI/UX engineers to help us make our application a delight to use.
Time: This is a part-time position. We would prefer to have you on-staff throughout the development phase of the project, but we also are open to hearing from short-term consultants.
Work Environment: We largely work independently, meeting in person as a group occasionally (every 1 or 2 weeks), with individual teams meeting at their own schedules. You would be expected to attend project meetings, and probably meetings of the software design/implementation team once they ramp up.
Responsibilities: With help from other volunteers on the project, you will analyze our use cases and goals and devise the ideal user experience and flow in such a way that it works well for for mobile, tablet, and desktop users, for the diverse variety of users of our application.
Compensation: Did I mention this is a volunteer position? You’ll get a T-shirt and laptop sticker and the due meed of glory that comes from having helped make the Directory of Stoke come to life. If that’s not enough, you’re probably not right for the job.
To Apply: Please send your resume and a brief cover note to David Gross (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Directory-of-Stoke project had a very productive and insightful kick-off meeting. Here are the highlights:
If you want to be in on the action, be notified of future meetings, participate in the planning & deliberation & execution, and so forth, your best bet is to join our team Google Group.
Our next big deliverable is going to be a market research / user needs survey. We want to better understand the people we’re building this for and what they want it to accomplish. Tim is working to assemble this survey now, and will send out a draft to those of us on the directory-of-stoke Google Group for review by Friday.
If you have experience designing or conducting surveys of this sort, we’d love to learn from your experience & expertise.
Coco Herda is our Head Motivation Focalizer, keeping her finger on the pulse of the project and its various teams. Contact her if you feel your motivation flagging, or are worried the pace of the project is slackening, and she’ll make sure the right fires get lit toot sweet.
Bryce Cape is our Minister of Fun, and, along with the rest of Team Fun, will be ensuring that we remain as stoked as we’re doing the project as we hope the project will stoke others.
We may need to build a big customer base in a hurry, as project creators and project volunteers will need to be participating in sufficient numbers off-the-bat to keep interest high. So when we launch, we’re going to need to do it with a splash. If you know marketing, publicity, press relations, or just happen to know everybody who’s anybody, please drop me a line.
We need an art director / branding wrangler.
Some of you who were unable to make it to the kickoff meeting indicated that you have a yen for graphic design. Please let me know if you would be interested either in being an art director / branding wrangler or being on the art / branding team.
For starters, we need a team logo / brand, but we will also need some well-thought-out, eye-catching, inspiring outreach material and professional user interface bling as the project gets closer to release.