Vermont is my adopted home state. I actually grew up about a mile into New York but I call VT “home” most of the time. I use it as a laboratory for ideas that might work in sharing the outrageous stuff that SparkFun does. My parents live in a quiet little town about an hour south of Burlington and when I visit, I try to run a workshop, library program or hang out at the Champlain Maker Faire.
“Salon Pod” by Jenn Karson and Ken Mills. Photo courtesy of Vermont Makers
Through the years I’ve managed to make a lot friends in VT. We’ve run great programs and I seem to be constantly scheming what to do next in the Green Mountain State. You wouldn’t think that the home to Ben and Jerry’s, Phish, and a hotbed of organic and small farm culture would be a tech center but, in an interesting way, it is. Burlington has a thriving startup culture and the University of Vermont is doing a good deal of tech through its engineering school. Vermont is the home to the first patent and in the new world they are going all out for open-source.
My friend, Mara, and I sat on the edge of Lake Champlain last Fall at Champlain Maker Faire after finishing a rousing set of workshops aimed at VT librarians and as we marveled at the beautiful fall weather and gazed at the Adirondacks the question came up of, “Well, what do we do now?” I said I’d always dreamed of putting educators and librarians in the same room to explore the crossovers in how communities deal with the changing nature of information. The E21 Conference was born on the lakeshore that day.
For the last eight months we’ve worked to put together a great event and it’s almost here. We have a great mix of people coming from all over the country. We are very pleased to have teamed up with Meg Backus and Nate Hill from Chattanooga Public Library’s Fourth Floor. A few of SparkFun’s Education people will be running workshops - Derek Runberg will be working with Processing and Arduino and Angela Sheehan will be spreading the good word on Etextiles. The talented and dynamic Beverly Ball from Denver Academy will be running her special brand of mischief as well as Jeff Goldenson from the Harvard Library Innovation Lab.
We aim to create a conference around what happens when files become read/write instead of read only. The idea is to have an open dialog with attendees while allowing them to learn/hack/create. With guiding questions like “how do we build community networks that push a new literacy (coding, building circuits and generating content from digital sources)?” we feel like the two days will be very evocative.
We are very excited to be working with Champlain College. Our opening reception will be at Generator and we’ll look forward to meeting everyone then. If you might like to attend there are a few seats left and registration closes the night of Thursday, July 24th. Hope you can join us!