3 ideas that emerged from Goucher's 'Coding for Community' hackathon - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Apr. 27, 2015 10:27 am

3 ideas that emerged from Goucher’s ‘Coding for Community’ hackathon

A values-driven web app for helping you buy food responsibly won the top prize.
The scene as Coding for Community wraps up.

The scene as Coding for Community wraps up.

(Photo courtesy of Goucher College)

Knowing where your food comes from and connecting to art and activist communities were the themes that emerged at a civic-minded hackathon held at Goucher College April 17-19.

Coding for Community attracted three teams. A member of the Goucher faculty joined each team.

Here’s a look at the projects that emerged from the weekend hackathon:

1. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

This project is designed to help people weigh values when making choices about buying food. The web app offers sliding scales that users can adjust based on how much they care about parts of the food process — like energy consumption, water use, labor practices and whether a food product is genetically modified.

Based on the adjustments, the app determines which food product best fits a user’s values. For instance, putting a higher value on pesticide use means you should seek Florida oranges, while upping the emphasis on fair labor practices gives California the edge.

Along with helping consumers make choices that fit their value systems, the app is also designed to teach consumers about the food industry. For instance, rollover features explain the difference between blue water and green water practices.

The challenges the team faced highlighted the necessity of the project: They couldn’t find an existing database to pull information from.

The team that created the app — and took home first-prize — was made up of Venture for America fellows Wesley Verne and Malavika Kesavan, as well as developer Michael-Scott Nelson and Goucher Environmental Studies Director Thomas Walker.

2. ArtsExplore

This app endeavors to give Baltimoreans a single spot that aggregates information about arts and culture events that may fly under the radar. By using technology, the idea is to get millennials more involved in the arts.

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Work during the hackathon resulted in an app that features an interactive map where users can enter a zip code and view all of the arts events in an area. Some events are added with a data scraper, and individuals and arts organizations are also able to add their own events manually. Eventually, the team would also like to break it down by category of event.

The team was made up of Goucher student Daniel White, Donquisoft President Greg Winton and Goucher professor Amy Skillman, who directs the school’s master’s program in cultural sustainability.

3. Grassroots Greatness

Goucher professor Tiffany Espinosa and Thaniel Chase developed this crowdsourced resource where people can find out about people working for community change.

The website provides brief bios of user-identified “heroes” who work on a variety of social issues. The team used some hackathon time to begin populating the website, and there’s equal room for famed activists like Dorothy Day and queer homeless youth advocate Sassafras Lowrey. Building out the site further will depend on people — including Espinosa and Chase — writing more entries.

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