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Thoughts Post #HackHarlem March 2k15

Some reflections after attending #HackHarlem.

:pencil: by Jacky Alciné Jacky Alciné :book: an reflections post :bookmark: hackathon , harlem :clock7: written :eyeglasses: about 2 minutes, 498 words :link: Comments - 0 Mention(s) - Permalink

#HackHarlem happened one Saturday in March and it was dope. Despite all of the events happening out here in New York regarding diversity, it was amazing to see a Black-run, Black-judged and Black-focused hackathon. Representation matters a lot. The goal of the hackathon was to have local technologists brainstorm, discuss and hash together drafts and ideas that can be used to enhance the livelihood of the residents of Harlem. Not even being from Harlem, this hackathon touched close to home. Software that helps communities helps people; especially in communities that are being socially, economically and to an extent mentally attacked1. Anything to make the lives of the residents easier is a plus (I’m looking at you, MTA).

Nothing but dope ideas came out of the hackathon that weekend and I’m hoping that people still continue on with their ideas2. I’m guilty of leaving two Black-centric hacks in my dusty ~/code folder :sob:. This post serves as a micro-affirmation to complete said hacks and make them into (hopefully) evolving projects that I can show to others to encourage one another to KeepOnHacking :trademark:.

People came up with ideas like a cost-sensitive dietary platform to help low-income families eat healthy, a discovery tool that’d look up vendors supporting SNAP/EBT with community ratings and even the digitization of a pre-existing (for more an decade) Harlem tour service! Shoot, if I had a few grand to hand out, I couldn’t see a better way to help people than with these ideas! After all, technology’s mean to enhance life (I’m looking at you, YC).

If there’s one thing I want people to know about #HackHarlem, it was that it was a grassroots event. It was run by people who lived in Harlem, attended (mostly) by Harlem residents and the ideas all came out with the intent of aiding Harlem residents. Before anyone decides to complain about “oh, what about me?”, I’m from Brooklyn, if you didn’t know. I didn’t complain about inclusion here because this moment wasn’t about me (or Brooklyn). If I really wanted it that badly, I could have hit up a few people to get stuff going down in the Heights or over in the Stuy. But Brooklyn has a tech scene. Harlem needs its scene to grow, but in the opposite way that Brooklyn’s scene grew, by the people; not its colonizers3.

That’s my $0.02, though. I’m excited for the next #HackHarlem. If you’re an engineer and you’re looking to make good of your skillset, it’s the place to be.

  1. This might seem a bit off-topic (if you’re not from such an environment). 

  2. Unless you were really looking for capital at a hackathon, chances are it’s sitting on your laptop somewhere after the hackathon. 

  3. Mic drop; shatters ground, flies through crust and falls into mantle.