Edtech founder Chris Rogers on his favorite Philly parties, #BlackLivesMatter and the best eats in Chester

We're debuting a new series called Off the Clock, where we talk to tech people about everything but work. First up: Chris Rogers, an educator who's also building an edtech startup.

Chris Rogers and Valerye Griffin at Flygirrl's Philly Loves the Soulquarians. (Photo by Shots Fired)

Product Hunt emailed us today. Subject line: Automate your life. But honestly? We don’t want to. We just want to live our lives … like humans. Tech scene culture can be so focused on work and efficiencies that it makes us forget everything else. Off the Clock is a new series where we interview people in the tech scene but don’t ask any questions about work.

Chris Rogers dreams of Chester.

He grew up in the Sun Hill neighborhood of Chester, 25 minutes outside of Philly, and he still goes back to get his hair cut (by his cousin) and still goes to Abu the Juiceman for his fish wraps.
Real quick, here’s Rogers’ work cred: The 26-year-old is the media and technology coordinator for Greene Street Friends, a private K-8 school in Germantown, where he also teaches 8th-grade language arts. He’s also building an edtech startup called JustMaybeCo that aims to connect community advocacy groups and teachers — he was part of the 2014 cohort of Penn’s Education Design Studio, Inc. incubator.
We last saw Rogers at the Apiary Magazine website launch party at the Trestle Inn last month, where DJ Lil Dave was spinning — Rogers is a big fan of the Illvibe Collective, of which Lil Dave is a part.
We Gchatted with Rogers about his favorite Philly DJs, the book club he’s working on organizing and self-care in the age of #BlackLivesMatter. Find a lightly edited transcript below.


To start, where are you right now? Describe your surroundings to us.
Because I just moved and the internet is off at home, I’m at Oxford Mills in the Education Design Studio offices [in Kensington]. I also forgot my school keys, so I missed the opportunity to refresh student iPads at Greene Street. Lol. A dry erase board, iTunes on Kamasi Washington. An overpriced iced coffee from Gryphon Coffee.
What’s your current jam right now? 
Oddisee: “What They’ll Say” (who’s playing here in October).

Kamasi’s “Henrietta Our Hero” is a close second.

Digging this Oddissee track. Playing that album now in the offices. So what’d you do this weekend?
This weekend was the move, just around the corner to 19th and Diamond [in North Philly]. So relatively quiet. But most weekends involve a night at something George Lawrence puts on. Then a stop at Dahlak on 47th and Baltimore in West Philly.
What do you like about the George Lawrence parties?
I’m one of those people who needs a DJ, someone I can be accountable to for the music of the night. Jukebox bars … can’t do it. I dance in spurts. Can’t make it like I use to.
So Illvibe Collective, mad respect. Rich Medina is the god. Cosmo Baker, I trust. Basically, I trust George. He’ll let me know.
And I met most of my Philly friends through some sort of music-driven conversation. So stepping into these places becomes a sort of Cheers-type experience. Don’t gotta worry about silly shit like dress codes. I just try to keep on a shirt and pants. Shoes good enough to get stepped on a couple times. And just enjoy the music.
Friends & Fam [at Kung Fu Necktie], I have a streak going there … so hopefully I can keep it up.
My friends just started going to that and have been raving about it. Still haven’t been to Kung Fu Necktie for some reason.
Matthew Law (of Friends & Fam) is my favorite up and coming DJ if you can still say he’s up and coming, he been around for a minute.
Kung Fu Necktie is cool. DJ-driven hip hop spots ain’t been the same since Fluid for me. Fluid brought me into the hip hop scene around here. I follow the DJs more than the location. Sonny James, Lil Dave, Skeme Richards.
Yes, Lil Dave!
Lol, I don’t wanna forget no one.
Tell us about a recent dream you had.
Ha! Well other than the freedom dreams. You know when Black lives matter.
I constantly like to remind myself of being home. I grew up in Chester, PA. Twenty-five minutes outside Philadelphia, a world apart.
Folks be like, “Chris, you been around here all your life,” and I have to remind them that I just moved into Philly 3 years ago. Big difference. I only came to Philly on field trips, big club nights and school shopping really all the way up until 21. So truly it’s a new experience.
So I do think about being home again. If I’m being a traitor by always being in Philly instead of helping to build up the scene at home. And the scene is building. We got our celebrities from home: Jahlil Beats, Jameer Nelson, Tyrone Evans and newly minted Rondae Hollis Jefferson.
I’m still at the barbershop down there, a whole day pretty much, every two weeks. My cousin the barber is always gon’ keep me until the last cut of the day. Reggie is his name.
What’s the barbershop’s name?
Haha. No one calls barbershops by their name back home.
Oops, haha, OK, good to know.
They just be called the barbershop where Reg cuts at. But the one he is at now doubles as a T-shirt fashion store. It’s owned by a brother affectionately known as Ya Mean.

christoper rogers

Chris Rogers’ most recent book purchases: Jesmyn Ward’s “Salvage the Bones” and “Men We Reaped.” (Courtesy photo)

What are you reading right now? 
So I’m not going to be cliche and say I’m reading Ta-Nehisi Coates. I’ll let white folk do that. You know, its so new to them … lol. “Did you hear this Black man talking about racism?” We been reading about racism forever. Cuz we had to.
I was thinking that this is the summer that everyone was reading Ta-Nehisi.
I have the book [Between the World and Me] though, working on a book club for it. I moderated [this book club] group for A Movement Without Marches, looking at Black women’s resistance to poverty and relationships with social services. Here’s one of my reflections.
Just bought two books from Jesmyn WardSalvage the Bones and Men We Reaped. And I budget parts of my checks to visit Wooden Shoe on South Street and related, records, from Brewerytown Beats on West Girard. They have an event coming up this weekend!
[The Ward books] deal with loss. Important for me right now as my timeline is constantly filled with viral videos of violence inflicted upon black folk. Probably connected to some other stuff too.
Do you have any self care strategies to deal with that? The constant news about violence against black people?
Not yet. I’m working towards one. I saw a post about Black Lives Matter and self care. Loved it. Like grief circles and what not. I know what I shouldn’t do: drink. And think that does anything to help. Lol, in my 20s and growing.
Reading helps for me. I enjoy spaces where I can chat about these things too.
What recommendations do you have for us? What should we pay attention to?


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