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Philly EcoCamp Will Promote Sustainability and Environment Through Technology

Ecocamp June 17, 2014 Category: MethodUncategorized


Philly EcoCamp is a series of three events rolled into one — a workshop day, a hackathon and an unconference–promoting sustainability and environment through technology, organized by Amelia Longo and Andrew Thompson of Azavea.

The Philadelphia-based GIS software company Azavea already has a stake in the environmental sector. Thompson, so-called “community evangelist” for the company, said that mapping the environment is one of the primary applications of  GIS. Azavea’s Open Tree Map, for example, is a platform for a crowdsourcing the location of trees in cities.

“We felt that EcoCamp would be a good way to bring two of our worlds together–the technology side and environmental side and try and grow and build a community in Philadelphia and come out with some cool projects and some fun times for people,” Thompson said.

Workshops on June 20

The weekend of events will start on Friday, June 20 with a workshop day. The workshops will have two different tracks: a technology track for environmental enthusiasts to learn more about civic hacking, technology and data visualizations, and an environment track for civic hackers to learn more about important environmental topics like climate science, green infrastructure, and urban forestry.

Workshops include Urban Tree Maintenance with Andrew Emma of TreePhilly; An Urban Forest Primer, Sarah Low and Lara Roman of US Forest Service and Lindsay Walker of TreePhilly; and Build Your Own Low Cost Environmental Sensors, Matt Fritch and Chris Nies of Philadelphia Water Department and greenSTEM Network.

“We really wanted the workshops to be a hands-on part of the weekend.” said Longo. “With the greenSTEM guys, for instance, they’re not just talking about what they’ve done, but they’re bringing in arduinos and sensors and opening it up to presenting their idea as a sort of a trigger for environmentalists to think about ways they could create projects around low-cost hardware.”

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The Hackathon

EcoCamp’s hackathon will take place June 21-22 and will be a place for participants to work on not just building software, hardware, websites, or data visualizations but also to work on any collaborative, creative projects, such as marketing campaigns and art projects.

Longo said everyone is welcome at the event, including both environmentalists and technologists, even if they don’t have a strong background in the other field.

“We need them to show up to tell us what their challenges are so that we’re not working in that vacuum and solving problems that maybe don’t exist or aren’t the most helpful,” she added

Previous hackathons organized by Azavea include NASA Space Apps and Hacks4Democracy. They helped with other hackathons as well, such as Apps for Philly Transit and TechCamp Philly.

View potential hackathon projects here.


While the speakers haven’t been set for the unconference ( a conference where the sessions and activities are proposed and led by the attendees) on Saturday, June 21, some ideas have already been proposed on the EcoCamp message board, such as Morgan Berman speaking about her project, Milkcrate Philly.

While the hackathon is directly solving problems, “maybe there are challenges that can be solved through conversation,” Longo said.

Find out more and register at PhillyEcoCamp.com. Volunteers are still needed (especially for Saturday)–and volunteers get in for free in exchange for two shifts.

When: June 20-June 22
Where: Friends Center, 1501 Cherry Street
Tickets: http://azavea.ticketleap.com/ecocamp/


Philly EcoCamp

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