Help me make the NY Tech Meetup the organization we all know it can be! Vote @tonybgoode in this week’s board election!

* In case you’re new here, my name is Tony Bacigalupo. I’m running for a seat on the board of the NY Tech Meetup. Learn more about me here

* The polls have opened! Vote here right now and spread the word! Perhaps you’d like to toss me a reteweet of support?

* Earlier, I wrote a post about why the NYTM elections are important. Check that here!

What does the NYTM stand for, anyway?

It means something different to everyone, but it’s safe to say that everyone involved shares a not just a fascination with the possibilities of the incredible advancements of the last few decades, but a desire to actively participate in making those possibilities into realities. We seek to either build new technologies ourselves, or, in many cases, we seek to apply these new technologies to solve problems in ways never before possible. Either way, we’re united by our shared interests.

Just how big a deal could this be?

New York City is the greatest city in the world. All eyes are on us. When we do something here, the world sees it, and learns from it. The example we set affects not just our own local community, but the leaders of communities in cities all around the world as well.

The NYTM has managed to attract nearly 30,000 people to join its ranks, without even trying. How many more out there might join if we decided to reach out to those we might not yet have reached? Could the NYTM have 100,000 members? More?

The person who gets elected to the board this year will complete a process that began four years ago to establish a governing body around the organization. With this 13th member in place, there will finally be a complete board. This person represents a crucial vote among a small group of people who collectively are charged with representing the interests of the greater community as a whole.

With a complete leadership structure in place, a few years of development and growing pains under our belts, and a growing membership, the NY Tech Meetup is in a position to facilitate a tremendous impact, locally and around the world.

What would I focus on improving?

The NYTM could go in a lot of directions. I’d work with the board to help the organization in a few key ways:

Activating greater participation: Aside from attending the monthly event, the vast majority of the members of the NYTM community has been largely dormant. Every time something more is asked of the community, however, the response is incredible. When our own interests were challenged, we rallied in protest of SOPA and PIPA with a force that could not be ignored. When the city at large was in need of our help, we stepped up and continue to step up to help our fellow citizens.

We’re still just beginning to scratch the surface of what we can accomplish as a community and as a constituency. I intend to apply my experience building communities to the membership of the NY Tech Meetup, so there will be more opportunities for people to participate and get more involved.

There are a lot of ways to be more active. In particular, I want to focus on: 

Fostering job creation: While gathering to demo new tech is fun, it’s also serious business. There’s nearly universal agreement that the opportunities created by recent technological advances hold the answers to how we’re going to dig ourselves out of the economic slump we’ve been in. These answers aren’t just going to shop up themselves; we have to seize upon these opportunities together if we want to make real progress. The NY tech community is in a position to play an active role in facilitating the creation of new jobs as a result of these opportunities.

To accomplish these things, we must engage people in a way that empowers the community to participate in what’s happening. To that end, in my work with the Board, I’ll commit to practicing:

Opening up the organization: I’ll let you know when a board meeting is coming up. I’ll ask for you to voice your opinions and concerns, and I’ll report back on how things went. Hold your elected board members accountable!

Why should I be on the board?

I hate tooting my own horn, but if you’re considering voting for me, then this is what you need to know: I’ll apply my experience building communities to the organization. When I’m not running New Work City, I am working with my friends Alex and Adam, the people behind the legendary coworking space IndyHall, on the Community Builder Masterclass. When we built the course, we developed a methodology for organizing and leading communities that’s been successfully applied many times over. As a board member, I’ll apply this approach to the organization itself. I have solid relationships with many members of the board already. They’re good people whom I can get to work with right away. Knowing I’d be on a board with people I share understanding and trust with goes a long way in making me confident that I can be an effective board member. I’m already in the business of making NYC better. As the cofounder and Mayor of New Work City, I’m already committed to working for the best interests of my community and my city. While I will continue to do so regardless of the election results, being elected to the Board will help to better unify my ongoing efforts with those of the NYTM moving forward.

My relationship with the NYTM

In early 2007, I was working from home, living with my parents, saving up some bucks out on Long Island. I had zero friends in NYC.

That all changed when I discovered Meetup.com, and in a particular the NY Tech Meetup. Before I knew it, I knew hundreds of people in the city, and was quickly becoming an active organizer of coworking communities, events, and even a Meetup group of my own.

Nearly six years, two coworking spaces, hundreds of events, a bunch of BarCamps, a couple of TEDx’s, some hackathons, a fake startup and a turntable dance party later, I find myself completely transformed by a world that welcomed me with open arms.

Since then, I’ve been a part of the NYTM’s Community Committee, an active organizer of NY Tech Responds, and acted as the unofficial afterparty organizer for several years before making it official, and then handing it off to the organization to run. I’ve attended dozens of Tech Meetups and have stepped up to play a more active role in Tech Meetup-related efforts at every possible opportunity. New Work City has also been a steadfast host of the official NYTM Simulcast event since its inception nearly one year ago, allowing an extra 100 people to participate in the monthly event every month.

The NY Tech Meetup changed my life forever. I know I’m far from the only one, which is why I care so much about the future of the organization. There are countless others out there whose lives are waiting to be changed forever, and I want to see this community help as many of them as possible– just as it helped me.

If you’d like, you can help me out with a tweet or similar social media broadcast. If you know other members of the Tech Meetup personally, it would be awesome if you pointed them here and asked what they thought. If you’re eligible, you should vote. And if you’d like to vote for me, I’d be very grateful. I can promise you your vote will be in good hands. Cheers!

Coworking spaces have become a crucial piece of disaster recovery infrastructure.

A very compelling story is unfolding in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, as hundreds if not thousands of people are flocking to new and existing coworking spots to get online and get back to work amidst the disruption.

In the early moments after the storm passed, Charlie O’Donnell created a #sandycoworking hashtag which succeeded as an instantaneous quick and dirty way to connect people with space to people who needed space. Shortly thereafter, Noel Hidalgo created a CrowdMap that made it possible for anyone to add spaces they knew to be available to an easy to navigate directory with a map.

Now, nearly 70 spaces are listed on that map in locations all over the city. In addition to our having moved New Work City temporarily to Brooklyn, existing spaces that were unaffected by the storm like Secret Clubhouse, Bitmap, Bat Haus, AlleyNYC stepped up in a big way and others opened up their offices as temporary pop-up locations for displaced workers.

I witnessed and received several communications from people with displaced teams who were desperate to find a way to get back to work. By having a place to point them to, I could easily get them hooked up with a location within biking distance that could help them get online in a timely fashion.

I don’t know the precise scale of it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the economic impact of Sandy on small businesses was mitigated by the fact that a network of coworking communities popped up almost instantly to give people a place to maintain continuity.

I know it helped me.

What happened here in New York is a lesson that should be taken into account when planning for and responding to future crises.

Join us at New Work City’s temporary home in Brooklyn and help with Sandy relief efforts!

As we enter the fourth day of Sandy’s aftermath, countless New Yorkers are still without access to power, communications, and basic needs. This is an enormous crisis unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Our neighbors are in need, and now is the time for us to do our part to help.

In the last 24 hours, I’ve corresponded with people connected to the Mayor’s office, City Council, FEMA, the Barclays Center, NY Tech Meetup, Recovers.org, Occupy, CrisisCamp, Entrepreneur Week, Twilio, the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (who are en route right now from Texas!) and countless other inpiduals who are stepping up to help.

The response by the NY Tech Community since the hurricane passed has been absolutely incredible. To see people I’ve only ever known by sharing beers at Meetups over the years now coming together in joint action is one of the most inspiring things I’ve experienced in a long time.

We’ve collected over 200 names of people who have technical skills and expertise and are ready to help. Now, today, it is time for us to take action.

Help us help those in need. Now.

A massive outreach effort is underway to connect those of us who are in a position to help with those who are in need. We have already identified a few projects to work on, but will be brainstorming new projects today.

About that new space…

Join us at NWC’s temporary Brooklyn HQ today & tomorrow

The fine folks at Brooklyn Brainery (seriously, they’re some of the most wonderful people ever) have welcomed us to use their beautiful space in Carroll Gardens as a temporary home base while we wait for our space in Manhattan to get its power and internet back.

For anyone in South Brooklyn, I encourage you to come by. Coworking in circumstances like these is awesomer than usual.

Brooklyn Brainery / NWC:BK
515 Court Street at 9th Street (map)
F/G to 4 Av / R to 9 St / B61 bus

We open at 10:00am today. Free and open to all NWC and BKBrains members/teachers and people committed to helping with relief efforts. If you’re none of those things, email me and ask nicely :) tony at nwc.co

Seriously, this place is lovely, and it’s all ours for now. Check it out:

  • For those of us in North Brooklyn, a similar effort is forming to gather people at the Secret Clubhouse. Crisis organizers Jessica Lawrence and Noel Hidalgo are making that their HQ; join them there if you can!
  • For more information on the ongoing recovery efforts, see my earlier post!

Let’s help our fellow New Yorkers in need!

Cheers,
Tony Bacigalupo
New Work City / Community Builder Masterclass / Let’s fix the stupid job crisis