'We feel like part of the community:' two sustainable-minded mobile developers choose Philly over Portland - Technical.ly Philly

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Mar. 17, 2011 11:00 am

‘We feel like part of the community:’ two sustainable-minded mobile developers choose Philly over Portland

Coming from Knoxville - which has few options for software developers -- Corey Latislaw and Jason Cox have found a home in our tech community.

Another in the Entrance Exam series, as part of the Why I Love Philly campaign from Young Involved Philadelphia and Indy Hall. Tell the world why you love where you live by tweeting #whyilovephilly.

Whether hiking, cooking, or developing mobile apps, Jason Cox and Corey Leigh Latislaw live life with a sustainable, do-it-yourself mentality.

After their recent wedding in Hot Springs, North Carolina, the two jumped in the nearby French Broad River for a no-holds-barred trash the dress/suit session. But rather than toss the dirty garments, they re-used them as Halloween costumes – zombie bride and groom. The dress was then dry cleaned and cut down for use as a cocktail dress.

Jason is a Quality Assurance Engineer in the iPhone group at Oracle, and spends just as much energy trying to keep up with Corey. In addition to developing Android applications (such as the new Xfinity TV app) at Comcast Interactive Media, Corey also sits on the board of the Philadelphia chapter of Women in Cable Telecommunications and is organizing what will be a regular meetup of Android developers in Philadelphia, called the Android Alliance.

While they are planning for a honeymoon trekking through Europe in April, the couple is also in a honeymoon period with Philadelphia.

Coming from Knoxville – which has few options for software developers, the couple has found a home in our tech community. They’ve also wasted no time familiarizing themselves with the local farms and food options.

Below, the couple shares more of their adventures, in technology and out.

Where did you two grow up?

Jason: I grew up in Baneberry, Tennessee, which is a little golf course resort town close to Knoxville. It was a tiny town. You could ride your bike in the street and hardly see any cars. And I don’t know how to golf at all.

Corey: I grew up in Tallahassee, Florida and spent most of my life in Florida. I hate it, it’s hot. I never want to go back. I like winters — yay snow!

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What brought you to Philly?

Wanting to live in an area with a much more vibrant tech community that wasn’t on the West Coast. On the West Coast, it’s more expensive and people have to drive a lot. And they work 100 hours per week.

Whereas on the East Coast it’s a little more calm. Also, Philly’s more affordable. We can live more sustainably and not need our car. In Knoxville, both of us would fill up our car each week. Now, we only need to fill up one car every other month.

When we were deciding to move, we also looked at Portland. We did Google searches on Portland and Philadelphia for tech community, entrepreneurs, beer, restaurants, public transportation, and walkability. The cities are very similar in everything they provide.

The main difference is Portland has a bunch of tech people going in and an overflowing the job market, and they all end up getting jobs in fast food. Here, there are quite a few opportunities open still.

Was there a specific time after you moved here that you felt like it was home?

We definitely feel like it’s home – it’s hard to describe. After living here less than a year, we feel like part of the community. We feel like we know almost all the young tech people in the city. We feel like we were taken in by the city, and now we have contacts in every aspect of the city.

We can learn from our friends where the best restaurants are, who the iPhone developers are. There are many CSAs [community-supported agriculture group] we can go to, as well as Reading Terminal Market and Rittenhouse CSA and Greensgrow [in Fishtown-ish].

There was one moment when we were at our apartment complex, and we saw the view and we were like: “Wow. It’s really nice’

What CSA do you belong to, and how did you get into sustainability in Philly?

We got into sustainability in Knoxville. There was a farmer who ran Music Mountain farm, and we bought from her for a year and a half before we moved.

Then we moved here and saw Rittenhouse and found the only organic place there at the time. We asked if they were doing a CSA. They weren’t, but they decided to do one a few weeks later. They are called Down to Earth Organics [now Down to Earth Harvest].

Then, over the summer, we took on a second CSA because Comcast was doing a pilot at Greensgrow Farms, where they gave you a bag and you’d pick it up at the Comcast Center. Since I [Corey] work there, it made it really easy to just take it home with me.

So for six weeks, we had two CSAs. Then the summer one ended. There was a winter one for Greensgrow. They grow a lot of veggies in the winter, in the city. They use a heated greenhouse with grow lights.

The only problem is we have to drive there to get our veggies every two weeks. We’re looking forward to the Rittenhouse Farmer’s Market starting up again, so we can walk. When we move to Graduate Hospital in May, it’ll be even more convenient.

Where someone’s visiting, where do you like to take them?

Reading Terminal, because you can see the combination of the busy city, a bunch of activity, local farms, and the different food options the city has. All under one roof. It’s just a really good starting point.

Some of our other favorite restaurants include the Belgian Cafe, Continental, Good Dog, and National Mechanics. We take them to parks as well. Mostly parks, restaurants, Reading Terminal, and Chinatown. We haven’t really done the touristy thing ourselves yet, living in the city, even though it’s just a mile walk.

When you’re back in Tennessee, how do you describe Philly to your friends there?

It’s really fun, and there’s always something going on. We live on the Parkway, so every weekend we hear some kind of announcements or crowds or cheering.

Just randomly we hear a bunch of people clapping and screaming, and Corey’s like – oh that’s the naked bicyclists! We walked outside, and sure enough there’s a bunch of naked bicyclists. We’ll stay out late, and at 7 a.m. there’s the Philly Marathon on the Parkway. Something’s always going on.

It’s great that you can ride the bus everywhere instead of worrying about driving. You can go to the bar and drink, and stumble home or take the bus — scratch that, no stumbling. It’s just a safer way to visit a bar.

Philly also has a great entrepreneurial scene. In Knoxville, I would go around the city and try to make partnerships with other iPhone app developers and the only two other iPhone app developers I met were web developers that contracted out the code. It wouldn’t have been a great partnership, as I could’ve written my own user interface.

Within a week or two of moving to Philly, I met like 15 other iPhone app developers and there’s people doing all sorts of things. Ruby on Rails, PHP, Python, the whole works.

In a tweet, why do you love Philly?

Jason: Walking out of my apartment – to the left I see nothing but parks and trees, and to the right I see skyscrapers and skyline.

Corey: Walking to work while holding my husband’s hand. #whyilovephilly #dontcallmeagirl

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