Lisbon: 6/22/22 prep dinner and 6/25/22 jam session

Hey all, thanks to everyone who came out to our kickoff dinner last night. Here’s our merry crew:

I wanted to summarize takeaways for sake of continuing the conversation and gaining clarity on what we’ll be building on Saturday as well as filling in the people who missed the dinner but plan to participate Saturday.

First if you’re planning to come on Saturday you need to do 3 things beforehand:

  1. Make sure you’re RSVP’d on the Meetup event. That’s how you get in the door at Le Wagon.
  2. Watch the recording of our zoom below. We had 3 of the past podcast guests zoom’d in remotely doing Q&A with our volunteers to answer questions on their respective problem spaces. You can skim the video or watch at 2x speed but this is essential shared context for participants on Saturday.
  3. If you’ve not already done so create an account on this site, complete your profile and introduce yourself. This takes about 3 minutes in total and helps us to know the skills & interests of the people in advance so we can form the best possible teams.

Ok, all that said here are my takeaways from last night’s dinner:

  • Clarity on what we’re building in advance: We should try to figure this out before Saturday so we can devote most of that day executing vs. ideating. We have a lot of different directions we can go. There is a lot to unpack in the zoom video… our challenge is now to identify the 1-3 things we can build that are most likely to move the needle on these causes. IMO we should strive to have teams of no more than 6 people each. Beyond that it becomes “too many cooks in the kitchen” and gets messy. As of now we have 19 people RSVP’d to Saturday’s event, 8 showed up to the dinner and last time we had 30% of RSVPs show up at the event so I think it’s realistic to expect the same 8 people from the dinner on Saturday with maybe one or two extras. If there’s 8 people on Saturday I propose we pick two projects and divide our efforts into two teams.

  • How to best communicate outside of the event: I setup this Discourse discussion forum software that we’re using now because it’s the best thing I’ve seen for encouraging thoughtful discussion and it’s web-based with great mobile responsive design so doesn’t require installing yet another app on our phones in order to use. That said I’m open to using something else like Discord, Slack or Telegram if people want a more real-time native chat app instead of this. All 3 of those have API’s and single-signon so they can be integrated and will work with this site but also all 3 are SaaS whereas this is open source and therefore entirely customizable/censorship-resistant. Discourse is solid for strategic, asynchronous, thoughtful dialogue and it is like “discussion fabric” in the sense that integrates with the nocode app I’m building and can have categories that map to the various entities in the database like problems, solutions, events, episodes, etc. Nerd talk though I digress… bottomline: I would prefer to see us use this tool but let’s use whatever tool will make us most effective and not paint us in a corner long-term. IMO we need to steer clear of orphaned ad hoc WhatsApp groups because that’s a silo and can’t be integrated, new people can’t see past dialogue, it tends to encourage chatty frivolous dialogue, etc. The grand vision here is that we’re not just running a one-off hackathon to attack issues but we’re figuring out the systematic approach to this and building the playbook/tooling to make it so others can take the torch and run with it in their cities.

  • Specific Problems:

  1. The prison industrial complex is probably the gnarliest of all the problems we can work on in that it’s hard to see how we unravel something that’s so embedded at this point but those are also precisely the type of problems we’re here for.
  2. The cancer one is pervasive and if we just stick to promoting awareness of holistic treatments that’s a pretty benign simple one vs. trying to take on the cancer industrial complex. And as Lucia pointed out that seems to be primarily a US-centric issue.
  3. Human trafficking is the one we’ve had the most progress in that we have a mocked up prototype of the browser extension and there’s a clear path forward of something tangible we can build to influence this one. I would really like to see a team advance that one if possible as it’s our most viable path to having a win we can celebrate which will keep us all motivated.
  4. Wealth inequality is a huge intractable problem that needs to be whittled down to a very specific subset which we can realistically attack. It is though the one that perhaps is most relevant to Lisbon and least “America-specific” of the issues currently on the pod.
  5. Hunger & Homelessness is another one that is massive and seemingly intractable but we actually have a ton of progress in the app we built for Esperanca Barcelona. The job there is to port it to something like Bubble or to rewrite it as a native mobile app and then document their process so that their effort can be franchised to other cities. And of course there are other things that can be done on this one but IMO that is the clearest path for how we have impact on this one.

Anyways thanks again to everyone who attended last night. This is all one giant experiment at this point and y’all are in on the ground level helping shape how this effort evolves for here in Lisbon and beyond. Let’s continue the conversation in the thread below and try to refine the ideas to get to some concrete teams/projects for Saturday. thoughts?

Thanks for facilitating the meeting and for the dinner Sean!

I agree that it would probably be best to work in smaller teams to better expedite the process.

Maybe one of the teams can pick up on something that is already underway and the other can start on a new issue, but it`s just a suggestion, and I guess it would all depend on the number of people present at the Saturday event.

So for instance, a team could pick up the cancer or the wealth inequality problem and another could follow up with the human trafficking. Maybe we could take a few minutes, in the beginning, to divide the groups and subsequently conquer.

I am still catching up with the more tech specifics to get my bearings on how to approach the different problems. I think one way of tackling this might be doing some background research on the themes of the problems and I will do that before Saturday.

I confess I feel a little lost and a bit intimidated by the programming and tech aspect, but I believe I will learn a lot with the other group members :slight_smile:

These are my first steps from thinking in a broader perspective toward the more specifics of each problem, while I am grasping with the fact that I look like an old gentleman in the dinner picture! haha :slight_smile:

Here’s a recap post of what all we did at the hackathon on Saturday. This is hopefully useful for summarizing the experience for those who are thinking of attending the next one as well as extracting our key learnings, outputs and giving those of us who attended a clear summary and next steps for how we take the project forward.

The event took place at Le Wagon in Lisbon which is a coding academy bootcamp who graciously hosts us our Saturday hackathon events. We are grateful for their sponsorship. If you’re considering learning to code check out their free webinars to get a flavor for their programs.

We got started at 10:30am with eight volunteers and began by opening the floor for proposals of which problem we actually work on. We began this conversation at the dinner on Wednesday where we were able to zoom with two previous podcast guests and one future one talking about their respective issues of wealth inequality, cancer industrial complex and privatized prisons. The group ended up deciding it wanted to work on a new, entirely-unrelated problem of sustainability, specifically focusing on what we could do to help Lisbon become a more green city. We took to the whiteboard to start mapping out a plan.

We used the Amazon Working Backwards methodology of starting by writing an aspirational press release that we would ideally like to run following the launch of whatever we build and came up with the headline and bulletpoints you see on the right side of the board.

And then backed our way into strategies for how to possibly make that happen (moving left on the whiteboard).

By this point it was lunchtime and our two mentors had joined us, Richard from GetRegistered and Maitham from Vital. We headed upstairs for pizza courtesy of Pagely, our lunch sponsor. Worth noting that Pagely also fed us at the Wednesday night dinner and we are grateful for their support. If you have a high-traffic or high-criticality WordPress site that absolutely cannot go down and you want to outsource maintenance, security, speed optimization, etc to someone else, consider hosting with Pagely.

After lunch we reconvened and deliberated on what of all the things we could build would best meet the criteria of feasibility and impact on the problem. We came up with a scoring method and went through as a group and scored each idea. We ultimately came up with this:

(Ignore the ER database diagram in the middle of the board - it was an artifact written in permanent marker that we couldn’t figure how to erase hahahah).

We settled upon option #6 which was the idea that we could make an app to gamify activities which would reduce one’s carbon footprint.

How to actually make that happen became the next question.

We started ideating about how to best create behavioral change for Lisbon residents and came up with a simple mobile app that would be a self-test one could take to determine “How green am I?” We thought about a questionairre but more interesting was the idea of “is there some objective measure that wouldn’t involve survey bias and allow us to easily extract a score on someone?” We determined that we could ingest data from one’s Google Maps Timeline and use that to determine portion of total travel via walking, cycling, bus and car and then from that develop a scorecard that would give people a clear breakdown of their transportation habits and opportunity to make slight shifts in the right direction by replacing their commutes and activities with greener transportation methods.

At this point someone came up with the name “Greenr” for the project and it stuck.

Lucia began drafting a low-fidelity concept for what the web app might look like:

The idea was to compete against yourself monthly but then also layer in the ability to challenge friends to get a network effect of spreading it. Ideas blossomed around incentivizing with credits earned similar to how apps like Charity Miles reward their users. But we agreed to remain focused on delivering the simplest version of this app.

At this point we had hit our time limit and spent the remaining few minutes talking about the best way forward. The group decided that it wanted a collaboration/communication tool like Slack to keep working on things.

I’ve since setup Discord instead of Slack for our group. After doing a side-by-side comparison of both Discord appears like a better choice. The two tools are nearly identical in terms of capabilities only Slack seemingly has a bent towards companies whereas Discord is tailored more for communities. Given the nature of this whole effort, Discord feels like the right choice. It also has no message limits imposed whereas Slack caps everything at 10k total messages before requiring the entity to pay for all members. We’re a long way from hitting the 10k message limit but I would prefer to not paint ourselves in a corner with a tool that we’ll grow out of.

At any rate we now have a clear direction for next time. I’m hoping we also get enough participants on the next one where some of us can work on the anti-human trafficking browser extension project we started at the previous one.

Thanks to all who participated. Join the Discord here. See you next time.

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