Hackers and tinkerers have always been at the heart of our collective consciousness and economy. What is coming, and really already happening, is the collaboration and mutual amplification of these bright minds and creative personalities. Co-working, co-hacking, it's all just about collaboration and connection. I first entered this world of collaboration with my friend Brendan Schrader as my guide. Founder of Hive76, a local hacking space in Callowhill, his unexpected, sudden passing this summer was a huge loss for this community. Despite the personal and professional loss, Hive76 continues to carry on Brendan's vision: bringing people together to pursue crazy technology inspired ideas just for the fun of it, just to see what's possible. Other, similarly motivated organizations are popping up all over the City, like the guys at City CoHo, co-working with a focus on sustainability, or Impact Hub with it's broader focus on humanitarian good. Technology plays a major role in connecting people, but the magic happens once humans are physically together in the same space. The way these spaces are designed- accessible, beautiful, sustainable- are all essential to maximizing the potential of what gets created within their walls. Which is cool for me, because what I care about and work on is technology and physical spaces.
I've had the accidental pleasure of infiltrating and helping bridge what has until recently been four very separate worlds of co-working and collaboration - the sustainability movement,designers, the start-up scene, and the geek world. At first glance to my Anthropologist's eye, these felt like very different communities. Now I see how well these seemingly parallel universes can complement each other. There's the start-up world, with it's spoken mantra of "move fast and break stuff" with the unspoken asterisk "*in order to make buckets of money". Geeks, squirreled away in their dungeons burning the midnight oil, as they toil to find and/or construct elegant solutions to things that may or may not be actual problems. Designers and artists, similar to geeks, share a passion for elegant solutions for more practical applications, but with a tangible, aesthetic consideration. Which brings us to the sustainability folks trying to convince people to sort their recycling, compost their banana peals and eat more kale, ride their bikes and wear and eat and live organic everything. The holy grail is finding a way to solve the pressing problems of our time- like climate change, economic inequality, and education- quickly, economically and elegantly. To do this we have to bring each group together.
I believe through collaboration we can come together and use the strength and energy of the start-up scene,whether profit-motivated, creative or sustaining, to continue to tackle these important humanitarian and environmental issues to achieve better, faster solutions- my name for this new group of civically and environmentally oriented hackers and entrepreneurs is "Green Nerds." What I hope and believe comes next for us after all of this thinking and designing together ultimately creates a more connected, generous and sustainable Philadelphia.
Morgan is the Founder and CEO of MilkCrate, a Philly-based tech company that runs the digital hub for the sustainability community. She is a multidisciplinary designer with a Masters of Science in Sustainable Design from Philadelphia University. The common themes of her work are a love of community-oriented design, and promoting healthy beautiful cities.