2015 project list: Want to play too?

Last night I wrote a listicle of 14 things that I have learned this year that I need to remember (and some of those may help you so go scan read!). Now, here are two projects for 2015 that are exciting, and will need more than just me and Immy.

Spoken Word Festival

One of the many, many experiences that have brought me to tears, or defo having to bite my lip very hard not to cry – was listening to young spoken word artists. It struck me that one way of really hearing a lot more of this, learning more about it and championing these young geniuses who craft and deliver this poetry would be a festival. Yep, the Festival of Code but for words. If you don’t know what I mean by spoken word then here is George the Poet, doing it:

I spoke to Immy Kaur about it and she is *in* which is great. It has got as far as what, where and when, not much else has been thought through, but it will!

This is the current plan, (timing may change, location and format will not):

  • 100 young people (top age 25 is the current thought, this can be influenced!)
  • One week of working in groups or alone to write and rehearse a new poem, based on four themes (yet to be decided). This is not done in one place, you would do this in your own homes or your friends’, (this may change!)
  • The Saturday is performance day, with everyone coming together (hopefully at Immy’s Impact Hub in Birmingham – Kickstarter here :)) and to perform and listen
  • There will be heats in the morning and final in the afternoon: a judging panel of suitably good people will filter X Factor style the winners for each of the four themes – plus an overall winner
  • There will be prizes, food, music, fun stuff
  • There will be an after party

If this works then we may well look at doing it again and following the Festival of Code format grow it to multi-centres and a whole weekend – but we are starting with this.

Register to take part or attend on Saturday

Operation Rebrand ‘Wimmin in tech’

This year I have spoken at many schools and on many platforms, supposedly inspiring girls into technology. One day I accidentally did it in heels and a GORGEOUS skirt from Ted Baker, because I was headed somewhere amazing afterwards. This time it was to a room full of 600 girls in a school in Streatham. I was amazed to discover how much more interested and engaged they were. So I have a plan.

In 2015 I am going to gather a group of women in technology fields, covering everything from coding to media tech. Then every month hire four incredible cars and buy four incredible outfits and pairs of shoes for four of these ladies. Then visit a school, or a group of school children gathered in one place – sweeping up one lady geek per car, deliver an assembly followed by a careers workshop.

I hope that after 12 months of doing this (one per month but not starting until at least February! so this will have to bleed into 2016) we will have significantly rebranded the image of geekery, technology, women and science in the minds of young people, inspired them to look at technical careers and opened their minds to what technology, or indeed all STEM subjects, could actually deliver for them.

If you want to be one of the women to take part, or if you are a school and want this to come to you, or you want to help us find a good supplier of glamorous cars for hire, or you have an idea for who might want to back this project email me: emma@rewiredstate.org

That’s it, those are my two projects for 2015 – that and I will be working full time in suitable paid employ, more news on that when I have finished interviews and (hopefully) actually have a job to tell you about!!

Happy New Year, everyone, please do share your own projects and ideas and link to them in the comments – it is exciting to see what everyone is going to be doing!



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


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