Girl brightens street, one balloon at a time

ShelbourneRd

Photo via pea green girl.

Recently, I participated in GOOD’s first annual Neighborday. We invited our neighbors over for milkshakes and sat on our lawn and talked with them about everything from what our block used to be like to tips for toddler sleep to how to entertain visiting family.

The turnout was smaller than I’d hoped for, but it was still nice to stop for a moment and focus on the people who lived around me. So when I came across Zoe Green‘s little project of brightening her UK street with balloons and nice notes for one day, I couldn’t help but think, “Yes!”

She writes:

From my perspective, Shelbourne Road is just another long, fairly anonymous Bournemouth street. Nothing really happens here.

Other than the occasional social gathering in the corner shop, we go about our daily routines side by side and yet our paths never seem to overlap. I only really know my next door neighbour Paul and his dog Foo. I don’t know who lives opposite, or two houses down, which really makes for quite a sad state of affairs.

So how can I make a difference? One smile at a time.

I don’t intend to change the world. but I know that if you brighten one person’s day they are highly likely to brighten someone else’s. Happy Street Day took place on Monday 15th April 2013. It was my personal mission to bring some unexpected cheer to my fellow Shelbournians, encouraging them only to stop for a moment and talk to one another.

This project was about inspiring people. So take my ideas and share them with your community.

Go on, spread a little joy.

What are some other ideas to make YOUR street a little bit cheerier?

Join GOOD’s Fix Your Street day on the last Saturday of May. 

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Want to get more women in tech? Let Code Scouts guide you

Want to learn how to make websites, apps, and more but don’t know where to start? Code Scouts in Portland, Oregon can help. This post originally appeared on good.is, a global community of people who give a damn.

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Founder Michelle Rowley and Kevin Turner, who recently joined Code Scouts full-time as their Chief Technology Officer. (Photo by Jason Grilicky.)

At the kickoff event for Code Scouts—a nonprofit providing support and resources to women learning to code—founder Michelle Rowley stands in front of a room of almost all women, welcoming both new and familiar faces in the Portland, Oregon tech community.

She confesses how, at first, she didn’t feel smart or empowered enough to become a software developer. And how it wasn’t until her developer ex-husband said he’d help her learn that she traded her geography and French degrees for hacking.

To get to this point—being one of the 18 percent of developers today that are women—Michelle had a few things in her favor: a father who didn’t think twice about teaching her computer skills when she asked him growing up, a partner who believed in her, and friends in the scene who encouraged her to attend conferences and meetups.

She had hands helping her; now she wants to do the same.

“I want to take the experience and privilege I’ve had and give it to people who haven’t. Just for fun,” she says. “And I think it would change things.”

It’s no secret that knowing how to code comes with all sorts of benefits: good pay, flexible hours, and esteem in the eyes of colleagues and peers. But it’s also an industry known for its competitiveness, locker room atmosphere, and lack of diversity.

That’s where Code Scouts comes in. Michelle, who has been helping lead the Portland Python User Group since 2008, came up with the idea last year as a way to bridge the gap between the people creating the internet (mostly men) and the people using it (mostly women). By creating a safe space for learners to play around with 1’s and 0’s, and, more importantly, be okay with messing up, Michelle hopes to spread the coding love, and wealth, to new faces.

“Code Scouts exists to pull more people out of the woodwork who are thinking about doing it but are scared to even approach the situation,” she says. ” It can be a scary jungle. We’re guides in Code Scouts. We’ll go in that jungle with you.”

Women have come to the monthly event with varying skill levels and backgrounds. Marta McCasland, for one, has been learning coding on and off on her own for the past year. She works as a loan processor at a credit union, and hopes the skills she’s learning at Code Scouts will help her better serve her customers. She also wants to develop a geolocation-based apartment finder app in her spare time.

To do this, her Code Scouts guide will lead her down a path of available resources like Treehouse and Codeacademy. Over the course of the afternoon they’ll work together to find the right starting point, form learning circles with others at her level, and hopefully, make long-lasting connections.

“It feels like I’m surrounded by people who might actually have the same questions I have, whereas in other groups it feels like, ‘Should I ask this? Is everyone going to be like, Why are you asking that?”” Marta says.

While the nonprofit’s formal mission is to get more women in the tech industry, Michelle is also addressing a deeper issue: newbie shaming. Cliques are common, and more often than not, she says, expertise becomes the marker of whether you’re in or out. “Dumb” questions are usually cause for ridicule.

It can be uninviting for outsiders. And not just women.

“Guys are coming out to me and saying they don’t feel welcome in that scene either,” she says.

Michelle allows some men to participate in Code Scouts, and there are some male mentors. The values listed in the code of conduct—respect, kindness, generosity, growth, community—make it clear that no jerks are allowed.

At the start of the event, Michelle makes it a habit to encourage everyone to embrace the mistakes they’re bound to make in the next four hours—as well as in the rest of their coding lives.

“Be willing to do it wrong a thousand times,” she says. “This is the space to be wrong and still feel good about it.”

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Starting with San Francisco, Michelle’s ultimate goal is to have Code Scouts chapters in many, many other places. To learn more or get involved, follow them on Twitter or get in touch with Michelle: adventure@codescouts.org.

Read more from Idealist on good.is.

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Idea List: Plastic boats, pop-up homes, and more

My job at Idealist is to see how the collective “we” can get more good ideas into the brains of more people.

What do I mean when I say “good ideas?” Sometimes you just instinctively know. Cell phone: good idea. Vibrating bra? Bad one.

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Image by Arthur Buliva under CC-SA licence (via Afrigadget)

But lately I’ve been studying solutions or projects that are proving to work, and that might be replicable around the world. Here are some I came across recently that made me want to clap my hands and do a little dance:

  • A man in Kenya uses tourist’s discarded plastic bottles and old slippers to construct a boat (AfriGadget)
  • Valentine’s Day phantoms spread love throughout a city in Maine (GOOD Magazine)
  • H.I.V. clinic in Canada allows drug addicts to inject themselves under nurse supervision (NY Times)
  • A Virginia company creates pop-up mobile homes to assist seniors with family managed health care  (Springwise)
  • Pink sari clad vigilante women in India crack down on men who’ve abused their wives (Women Make Movies)

Did you read, see, or experience something lately that you think deserves more attention, and maybe a copycat or two? Leave a comment below so we can add it to the next idea list!

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Valentine's Day: Chocolate and…roaches?

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Hissing Cockroach, U R A 10. (Photo by Flickr user butterflysha)

Forget truffles. I want to go to the zoo!

Flowers

Chocolate

Vermin

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