YRS2012 and the Custard Factory

So, I have kept you all fairly well up to date with how we have managed to scale Young Rewired State and our Festival of Code weekend celebration at the end of the week, instead of a rushed single day with no time for proper chatting or collaboration, plotting and intrigue.

Our excitement at organising the festival to be held in the grounds of Bletchley Park with the National Museum of Computing hosting and doing all manner of wonderful things, was ridiculous. (You may remember).

Then one completely wonderful/terrible day a few weeks back, we realised that we had so many young programmers signing up, that there was no way we would be able to carry this off in the grounds of Bletchley Park. And no matter how wonderful they were, kind and accommodating – there was simply not enough room. A delicious but tragic position to be in.

Should we turn hundreds of kids away, or find a new venue, with only a few short months to go, in the middle of summer, the height of the Olympics and with bog all money? We had no real choice…

… we hit the phones, emails, mates, colleagues, strangers, ex-tutors, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, current boyfs, current girlfs, twitter, airports, Number Ten, nuclear bunkers – you name it, we begged it. Fun!

I shan’t bore you with the details – it was a scary time.

Enter Birmingham City Council and Digital Birmingham – a wonderful, hugely under-resourced but fabulously helpful bunch of deliciousness. Within hours we were onto a winner and within days we were in Birmingham, looking at the most incredible venue ever: the Custard Factory (I promise it will not stay this amazing for long – go and have a look now before it is full of handlebar moustaches and penny farthings – every door opens into another beautifully naked space, groaning with street art and proper “urban chic” I think it is called.) I fell in love immediately, on behalf of the kids, of course.

Price was an issue. Naturally – most people putting on an event of this size with 500 kids, 50 centres, 200 mentors, celebrities, industry giants and whatnot, would have a budget to match. Not us – we have to work to fit the need, we cannot create the need and fill it, this is too young a game for us to be rigid, and if the demand is there we must rise to it, and if it isn’t we must make those people who are involved feel like the community is full to the brim even if there are only 50 of them. And so we cannot sell our souls for hundreds of thousands – which is what it would realistically cost, I think, in the normal world. And so we have what we have and we will make it happen.

Luckily we are working with the Big Cat Group who have been super helpful. Anthony Tattum and Lara Ratnaraja have not flinched at my ridiculous statements of necessity, and have instead either applauded all valiant efforts to reduce costs, or made necessary introductions and interventions. And we are finally here…

The plan is this:

From Monday through to Thursday the kids will all code in centres across the country, and where we cannot drum up a centre, they will be remotely mentored.

On the Friday the 10th August they will all make their way to the Custard Factory in Birmingham.

Through Friday afternoon and evening they will continue coding, have some chats from great people before bedding down for the world’s largest sleepover in spaces ranging from the Zellig rooms to the nightclub.

Breakfast is nice and early and heralds a chaotic (no doubt) morning of presentation heats to panels of judges followed by winning presentations to yet another panel of quite frankly astounding judges – names to be announced, we do not want to overshadow the celebration of the young talent by shiny grown ups!

Prizes and awards will be given and a party will be had, underneath the arches of course.

I expect people will start to disappear at this point, but we are going to have a survivor’s breakfast on the Sunday morning and have kept some of the spaces for those wishing to stay on (on the floor) and then it is all over and we start plans for 2013!

Some things I would like to mention:

1. We need to source 1000 chairs, the quote we received was for NINE THOUSAND POUNDS for 1000 chairs!! If necessary I will set up a chair donation thing for Birmingham and crowdsource them as we do not have that kind of cash! (Watch this space)

2. Feeding people will be fun. All suggestions very welcome – we cannot do a per capita rate we need options

3. We actually have a designated Green Room – <- I KNOW!

4. We could do with all hands on deck with Birmingham folk looking for non-Olympic stuff to do that weekend – feel free to let me know in comments here

*to note*

We have added ourselves to the Mozilla Summer Code Party as we know that we are merely a part of a worldwide movement of people doing awesome things. Let’s not forget the other stuff; indeed – if you can’t be a part of YRS2012, be a part of some of the other happenings.

PS Sorry there is no real custard in this blog post

12 responses

  1. How brilliant that so many youngsters want to take part! Well done on finding somewhere not just spacious enough but with oodles of cool. I wish I could offer some practical help.

  2. Your remote support, Janet, and keeping me going when I fall over (often) is so helpful so don’t discount it. This is really a community thing, you guys own this as much as I do – except I will take the rap for the cash and fundraising! A strange thing to be able to do – am never going to be a millonnaire, but hopefully I will manage to change a BAZILLIION peoples’ lives! And still have something to do in my retirement <- probably a more realistic achievement than the aforementioned bazillion

  3. I have every faith in you that it will be bazillions! :-) I’m always here for you (even if geographically remote). I tell people about you and about YRS at any opportunity too.

  4. Hello I would like to offer my help I am Birmingham based and produce projects and festivals with young people, may be able rustle up a bit more help too, should you need it.

  5. Hi Emma,

    I tried to get in touch a while back about our digital apprenticeship scheme based in West Bromwich. We have facilities & desire and we are really keen to get involved but we haven’t heard anything back. Should I try again on the contact front?

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