This past weekend I participated in Upgrade NM, a 24-hour "code sprint" where local web developers and designers volunteer to build a web site for a New Mexico non-profit. (Thankfully it wasn't 24 consecutive hours, but 8am–8pm on both Saturday and Sunday.)
1st-Mile New Mexico
The organization we chose to help this past weekend was 1st-Mile New Mexico, which works to bring open broadband to all of New Mexico, one of the least well-served states in the US in terms of broadband access.
Here's what we did for the 1st-Mile site:
- Re-wrote and edited content to target a general public audience.
- Designed a new interface for the site.
- Built out the new interface with XHTML, CSS and jQuery.
- Created a new CMS using Plone 3.1, as well as a re-usable Plone theme for the site.
What happens with this new (development) site after this weekend, remains to be seen and is, ultimately, up to 1st-Mile. They may love what we did, they may not.
So Why Bother?
As much as we would like to see 1st-Mile implement the new site because we believe it represents what the site should be, it isn't the primary reason for Upgrade NM.
Unfortunately, a lot of web design and development work is sent out of state. Upgrade NM is about helping the local web community by demonstrating that there is talent in New Mexico that can deliver high-quality web sites that embrace today's best practices.
Upgrade NM hopes to change perceptions of what local professionals can deliver, so that this work stays in state and there are more opportunities for New Mexico's web developers and designers.
The added bonus is that we get to help local non-profits that may not normally have access to the type of web expertise available from Upgrade NM participants.
In addition to working on the 1st-Mile site, we also invested some time on the Upgrade NM site:
- Discussed content and determined functionality for suggestions and votes.
- Tweaked XHTML and CSS.
- Developed PHP back-end and SQL database.
The Cool Kids
Upgrade NM participants represented almost every area of web design and development:
- Reid Givens: visual and graphic design, front-end development (XHTML, CSS, jQuery)
- Michael Bernstein: back-end development (Plone)
- Gabriel Ortiz: back-end development (PHP, SQL)
- Eric Renz-Whitmore: venue acquisition, UNM ARTS Lab sponsorship
- Mark Casias: front-end development (jQuery)
- Jack Moffitt: QA
- Daniel Lyons: front-end development (jQuery), back-end development (PHP, SQL)
- Me: front-end development (XHTML, CSS), copyediting/writing
My favorite part of Upgrade NM was collaborating with everyone. I telecommute from New Mexico to my employer in Maryland, so I almost never get to work in physical promixity to my colleagues. It was a treat to work with such talented people, learn new things and see how other folks work.
Check out more photos of the two-day sprint.
There will be another Upgrade NM event in early 2009. The new Upgrade NM site will allow the public to suggest and vote on the local groups to be helped.