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My Weekend With Upgrade NM

Dec 08, 2008

Published in

Upgrade NM

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

Reid Givens and Dan Lyons

Reid Givens & Dan Lyons resolving jQuery issues with 1st-Mile web site

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?
Dan Lyons and Gabe Ortiz

Dan Lyons & Gabe Ortiz working on PHP back-end for Upgrade NM site

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.

Upgrade NM

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

Eric Renz-Whitmore, Michael Bernstein and Jack Moffit

Eric Renz-Whitmore, Michael Bernstein & Jack Moffitt

Upgrade NM participants represented almost every area of web design and development:

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.

What's Next?

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.

Stay tuned.

Update: 1/08/2009

The Albuquerque Journal recently ran a story on Upgrade NM (unfortunately, you have to wade through their subscription ads to get to the article if you aren't already a subscriber): Volunteers band together to upgrade Web sites of New Mexico organizations.

Albuquerque Journal article on Upgrade NM

I wasn't in town when this story ran, so I didn't get a copy of the paper yet. A friend of mine promised to get me a copy, so I hope to be able to scan the print article and accompanying pictures soon and here it is (thanks Mark):

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Justin's Gravatar

Justin opines:


I’m actually very happy that events like this exist in Albuquerque. I will be moving back there from Orange County, CA after a eight year stint. It’s good to see forward thinking people like yourself and events like this in NM.

Emily's Gravatar

Emily responds:


@Justin - Sorry for the delay in responding, but I’m out of town and doing my best to “disconnect.”

Anyways, you should also check out DCF Web Geeks when you get to town. They have monthly social meetups for web folks. Was how I met a ton of people after moving to ABQ from Maryland.

Also, a friend of mine and I are in the process of forming a web professional user group, Webuquerque, which will have monthly educational sessions, followed by socializing. We are still getting the 2009 agenda together, but I’ll be posting details on my blog soon.

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Emily Lewis

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I'm a freelance web designer of the standardista variety, which means I get excited about things like valid POSH, microformats and accessibility. I ply my trade from my one-person design studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106 USA.

A Blog Not Limited is my personal blog where I pontificate about web design, web standards, semantics and whatever else strikes my fancy. Head on over to Emily Lewis Design if you'd like to see my work or, even better, hire me.


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