Monthly Archives: February 2015

Finding your way

I’ve been following the situation in Ferguson pretty closely over the past 6 months. I’m not sure what happened between Mike Brown and Officer Darren Wilson. I think my sister-in-law said it best when she said that they probably both ended up operating from their “lizard brains” — adrenaline and emotions taking over — and the result was more violent than it otherwise might have been.

Whatever did happen on that August day, the subsequent events that unfolded brought a lot of issues to my attention. I obviously knew that black people in this country have a more difficult time, but I didn’t really understand the extent of the problem, and how systemic it is.

I believe that every kind of oppression needs to be stopped, and if it’s in my own back yard, then I should especially be willing to take a stand to stop it. So I’ve tried to figure out what I can do. I’ve gone to marches a few times. And while it feels good to help amplify the voices that aren’t being heard, I don’t feel like it has a very big effect. So I’ve struggled with how I can have a real impact.

Back in November, Alex Miller from Strange Loop tweeted a GoFundMe link called “Build Ferguson Youth Tech Program“. They wanted to raise money to teach underprivileged youth a course in web development. I immediately sent the organizer an email volunteering to help.

This past Saturday was the first class. There were 10 students, from about 17 to perhaps 24 years old. There were 8 mentors, a couple organizers, and a couple instructors. Each student was given a Mac laptop and we started teaching them HTML. It was a long day, but they got to learn how to put words on a web page, and made some good progress. Classes are Saturdays for the next 6 weeks, plus Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

I don’t know how much these kids are going to learn in 6 weeks. They certainly won’t be expert web developers. But that’s not really that important; what’s important is that they get the opportunity to become web developers if that’s a path that they’d like to pursue. Opportunity is what’s missing in these kids’ lives.

The other important thing is that I found my way to make an impact. (Perhaps not coincidentally, the workshop is called “Tech Impact”.) Thank you so much, Abby BobĂ© for organizing this. You made it really easy for me to find my way.

If you’d like to help, please sign up here.