Maker Community Gathering

I’ve heard that there will be a gathering of maker folk in Amherst the weekend of January 17th.  A presentation about maker culture will be followed by an introduction to the open-source microcontroller platform Arduino.  On Saturday, participants will build a structured project and Sunday is planned to be more open-ended exploration.  They are offering registered participants a free Arduino!


More details are available here.  It’s a join project put together by the UMass Biology Computer Resource CenterAmherst Media, and Pioneer Valley Open Science.  Hope to see you there!

Hack for Western Mass


Tonight is the kick off event for Hack for Western Mass. This weekend, web and software developers, designers, community organizers, and other folks from all over Western Mass will gather to tackle local challenges with technology.

Hack for Western Mass is one of 96 events happening nationwide as part of the National Day of Civic Hacking. The National Day of Civic Hacking is an event during which citizens from around the country will work together with local, state and federal governments as well as private sector organizations with the common goal of improving their community. Hack for Western Mass is also licensed under Random Hacks of Kindness.

Listen to Becky Sweger from National Priorities Project, another organizer, describe the event in an interview with Monte on 93.9.

Should you come help out?


I’ve been involved in organizing this event for the past six weeks. It’s been a great experience, and it promises to be an amazing event. We’ve collected a great array of challenges to help local organizations. For example:

  • Mapping Safety Net Service Needs: create a map for Community Action in Greenfield that compares the location of people receiving safety net services with Census demographic data that shows where the services are most needed.
  • Benefits of Banking Locally: Compare our deposits in local banks and credit unions vs national banks and create a visual way to show how banking locally benefits area residents and businesses. Lots of people know the benefits of eating locally and shopping locally, but many don’t know why banking locally makes so much sense.
  • Mapping Wells and Water Quality: Massachusetts doesn’t track the location of private wells, a problem that can lead to water contamination. A database of private wells can help planning, reduce costs, and estimate water quality.
  • Seed Swap Database: Develop an online seed library to share information about locally available seeds, strengthen food sovereignty, self-reliance, local resiliency and adaptability of crops, and empower community building.

We’ve found some great local sponsors to help feed people as they work through the weekend. If you haven’t registered to come yet, there are still a couple spots available. Sign up now!