Hack Together

Together Boston and General Assembly present Hack Together, a 24 hour hack-a-thon that brings together engineers, artists, and creatives to create a cool work of technological art.

It happens on Friday, May 9 in Boston, Massachusetts.  Who knows what craziness they will come up with this year!

The Diverse City Fund

For this last post, I’d like to introduce you all to the Diverse City Fund. We are a volunteer-run funding body that makes small grants to grassroots, social justice organizations/groups/projects that are run by and serve people of color in the District. A project of the Community Foundation for the National Capitol Area, we don’t have any official tax status with the IRS (we’re not even incorporated, I don’t think), and that’s just how we like it! So far, in close to three years and over 2.5 grant cycles, we have raised and re-invested $235,000 to groups working to make DC a more just and vibrant place to live for all its residents. Our Board of Instigators (of which I am member) meets monthly to administer the fund – coordinate fundraising activities, plan events, and manage grant rounds. The Grantmaking Team, who actually review the grant applications and make determinations about funding allocations, are comprised of folks who are deeply embedded in the city’s social justice movements. They are also all people of color.


The grantees from our Spring/Summer 2013 cycle at the Grantee Celebration

Most recently, we have been facing capacity issues with our all-volunteer board. This spring, we decided to postpone our grant round to the summer – and that will only be open to past recipients of funding. We are also holding a dialogue with this group of past grantees in advance of the application period, where we’ll really look at the work that’s going on and how we can best support it as a funding body. Transitions are sticky, but we really emphasize a lot of open discussion. Nothing moves quickly, but when it does, it means we’ve really built a consensus around our choices. I’ll make sure to let y’all know the next time we have a grantee celebration. And of course, if you WANT to donate to us now, you just have to click here!


Have you heard of CrowdRise? It is essentially a for-profit crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but specifically for nonprofits and with slightly lower transaction fees. It was started in 2010 by actor Edward Norton and three partners, and it recently acquired $23 million in financing. Norton is using his connections with actors like Will Ferrell and Seth Rogen to use the site to raise funds for charities to expand its popularity. Considering the connection to Ferrell and Rogen, this tagline makes complete sense.

“If you don’t give back, no one will like you.”

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently posted an article on CrowdRise. Check it out.

The Bard’s Town

I just realized that The Bard’s Town is probably my inspirational model for my cupcakery.  It is mainly a restaurant, but because it is devoted to offering live music, theatre, and who knows what else to its patrons, it has become a lively place to eat and a sanctuary for small theatre and music groups in Louisville.  Their model for charging artists has just been updated in the link above and it looks like sometimes they give 100% ticket sales back to the artist!  That is ah-MAZING!  I will look closer at their model before deciding on how the cupcakery will operate, but I have great hope that this place is for profit and thriving!


This is like craigslist for artists.  You can buy, sell, exchange, collaborate, etc. through its interface.  I know it has been set up for over a year and there are still only 5 cities included.  I think there may have been a skipped step in the build out process to find out what cities would latch on well and how to expand from there because I would think the site needs more growth to be sustainable.  We’ll see!

11th Street Bridge Park

I know I am behind the times as a newcomer to the city so I just learned about this project last week.  I am a big fan of the High Line in NYC, so I have high hopes for the 11th Street Bridge Park.  This effort, headed up by THEARC, to turn a currently unused area into a place for the whole community is backed by their efforts to take community input before construction starts.  The design contest for the bridge just went out and they were just looking for a Marketing and Development person so the plan must be moving forward pretty rapidly with some big capital behind it.  I can’t wait to see its development in action in the next few years!

Venturous Theater Fund

NEA doesn’t fund individual works? No problem. There’s Venturuous Theater Fund, supports innovative approaches to theatrical production by encouraging theater-makers to take risks in the creation of new work for the stage. How about that? A funder that ENCOURAGES risk-taking. They want to GIVE ARTISTS MONEY DIRECTLY.

At least that’s what they say at first. Then there’s a little one liner that says they can’t actually give money directly to individual artists. Also they don’t accept unsolicited work. And your organization has to be tax-exempt or fiscally sponsored by a tax-exempt organization to qualify. They’re run through/facilitated by the Tides Foundation, which actively promotes change toward a healthy society, one which is founded on principles of social justice, broadly shared economic opportunity, a robust democratic process, and sustainable environmental practices. Basically, they offer a range of services, including grant facilitation for foundations doing the kind of work they want to promote.

So, this answers a question I’ve had for a while, which is how do organizations like Woolly Mammoth support new play development beyond grants from the National New Play Network. That’s good. They’re guidelines seem restrictive, but not unusually so. But now I have additional questions, like where does the money come for this? Who’s the backer?

Interesting MVP’s from Food Cycle and Poo Pourri

Since we’re all working on videos for our ventures, I thought I would share a few from two newer ventures. The first video comes from a social enterprise and the other is from a commercial enterprise.

Food Cycle is a social enterprise in the UK that takes surplus food from grocery stores, volunteers, and contributed kitchen space to prepare meals for those who need them. They operate under what they call the triple donation model to create hubs, or sites where they offer services. They started out with two in 2009 and have expanded to 14. I like their video because it explains and shows what they do in a fairly simple yet very compelling way. Take a gander.

Food Cycle 2

You’ve likely already heard all about Poo Pourri by now, so I won’t go into detail about the enterprise. The popular commercial of theirs is one of my favorites because of its combined humor, use of imagery, and simple explanations. If you haven’t seen it, then prepare to be tickled.

Poo Pourri



SCRAP USA – it’s a lot like my enterprise.

SCRAP is a 501(c)3 organization originally founded in 1998 by a group of teachers in Portland, Oregon who wanted to find a home for their leftover classroom materials. Over the past 17 years, SCRAP has expanded its reach and now includes locations in Washington DC; Denton, TX; Arcata, CA; Traverse City, MI; and New Orleans, LA.

SCRAP HQ is a donation-based storage center and retail storefront that houses an ever-changing and diverse stock of recycled items for purchase. SCRAP also provides a range of educational opportunities within the community and hosts local reuse-based artists in our Re:Boutique retail boutique, which is located next door to their main “creative reuse center”.

SCRAP does not partner with the city to facilitate pick up of donated items – donors must drop off items they wish to donate at the SCRAP reuse center. SCRAP also offers memberships at varying levels (featuring clever titles like Dumpster Diver and Trash Compactor) with a range of benefits, including discounts on used materials at the reuse center and at partnering local businesses.

The SCRAP DC location was founded in 2010, and is currently located on 12th St NE.They also have a Re:boutique, membership program, space rentals, and craft events for recyclers of all ages. I believe SCRAP DC is currently supported by a dedicated group of volunteers, including the two local Directors. I would be interested to know what their relationship is with the local arts organizations in town. Right now the national organization’s circle of support seems pretty small and mostly limited to the PDX area.

One last note – one of the DC Director’s names is also Heather, so I have to wonder if there is some weird glitch in the matrix, and I am really looking a webpage created by myself five years into the future. Either way, an interesting organization with a great mission that is worth checking out.