Let’s Hack for LA!

This past week, I attended a Hack for LA meetup at Pivotal Labs in Santa Monica. I met Wesley and Kegan, the hosts of Westside Civic Hack Night. Hack for LA (www.hackforLA.org) is an organization made up of a group of both new and expert designers, developers, and product managers. Approximately 13 people attended. Several people were there for the first time.

The main purpose of the group is to come together in an effort to make the city better by utilizing skills or learning from the group and being put to work as a volunteer. The people had great energy and the venue was amazing. They are passionate about making a difference and giving back to the community.

When I arrived, I joined their Slack channel (www.hackforla.org/slack) and read up on the current projects. Everyone made introductions and stated the reason for being there. Each person specified which group they were there for. There are currently 4 ongoing projects. Each project was described and groups were formed for each individual project. 

I met the leader of each project. Sarah works with Team #StayLoudLA (www.stayloudla.com), a platform that makes it easy to find protests in LA for the issues that matter. The team is designing the next generation of their product to get their MVP (minimum viable product – a strategy for quick testing of data) onto Ruby on Rails (a development tool that provides a framework to help developers) for future expansion. I spoke with a developer who was working on Terminal (the technology to communicate with the computer) and creating a container for the data. Sarah is looking for DevOps, developers and product managers.

Eli works with Team #Engage, a place for keeping up to date on local issues as well as a platform where issues can be discussed. Right now, the product group is pushing product discovery toward their first clickable prototype. The data team is developing a machine learning model for deciphering meeting agenda data sets. Team #Engage is in partnership with the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. The platform makes it easier for citizens and the city of Santa Monica to get more involved in local government. They are looking for a front end team and a back end team.

Team #LAcounts is partner with the organization building www.lacounts.org to help them move their cause forward with open data sets in LA County. #LAcounts is an open data harvester for all portals in LA and a forum for people to communicate how they use the data. The demo is not open source. They are transitioning to CMS for data harvesting. They are in need of someone that can create user personas. At present time, they are looking to find out how many seniors live in the neighborhood and how many businesses are in the city. They are looking for someone who understands the value of getting data online and how to be more strategic in fostering community partnerships and outreach.

Christopher was there to pitch his project, Collaboration Tree, a data site for non-profit organizations. He has the back end completed and is looking for design and innovation framework. The concept is basically a big think tank. He is looking for students to help out with user experience (UX) needs and to build out the front end design.

It was interesting meeting the people who attended. Overall, I got a lot out of the experience. I learned about the organization, Hack for LA, and the individual projects they are working on. I took the time to speak with the leaders of each project to find out what their current needs are. When I spoke with the co-founder, Wesley, he stated that my project management skills could be utilized. I plan on attending future meet-ups with this organization and volunteering my time to gain practical knowledge of project management in the technology industry. I would like to gain more experience and make practical and effective use of my skills at the next meet-up.

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