ToC
  1. A Brief History of Design & Code
  2. Starting Out
  3. The First Semester
  4. Attempting to Build The Website
  5. The Second Semester
  6. We Evolve
  7. Branding Creative Code Club
  8. Becoming a Non-Profit
  9. Code Club’s Third Semester
  10. Our First New Branch
  11. Design & Hack
  12. We Evolve Again
  13. Lessons Learned
  14. Now

A “Brief” History of
Design & Code

Building the organization from the ground up.

Design & Code is a non-profit organization founded to bridge the gap between design and programming through interdisciplinary education.

In the last year, Design & Code has grown considerably, with dozens of students weekly at Parsons, and a second branch recently launched at SVA. We have organized events with other schools and are planning a large scale design-focused hackathon with over 400 attendees. We have introduced many designers to code, and are now expanding to Computer Science programs to teach software developers how to design.

The technology industry has recently begun to appreciate the relevance of design, and the design industry has begun to understand the value of learning how to code. Companies in both industries are by-and-large desperate for fresh talent educated in both fields.

Design & Code is empowering students by providing them with new professional skills that will make them more autonomous, and in turn enhancing tech culture as a whole by providing new professionals with mixed skill sets and perspectives. In the future, this will facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration that will not only lead to a higher caliber of user-facing products, but to new perspectives on the creation of technology itself.

We intend for Design & Code to become one of the key organizations in the intersection of design and technology, helping to shape the next generation of designers and developers.

Since its founding in early 2013, Design & Code has existed in many forms, including the Parsons Code Club (PCC) and the Creative Code Club (C3). Following is a story of how the organization came to be what it is. It may seem long but it contains less than 10% of the actual correspendence sent between us. I tried to keep it as accurate and relevant as possible. Enjoy.

Starting Out

In late 2012, Dan sent a message out to a group of students (and Rory, one of our beloved teachers) at Parsons.

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 12/11/2012

PARSONS CODE CLUB?

Hey guys! Freddie and I had a conversation with Julia Wargaski today about the possibility of organizing a sort of “coding club" next semester. We figured that since the game design enthusiasts at Parsons have been getting together on a regular basis to share ideas for the past two years now, it’s high time for those of us into code -- any kind of code -- to do the same. We thought it might take the form of bringing in developers from time to time to discuss different platforms, as well as organizing the occasional hackathon.
You’re all awesome people who have done or regularly do projects in this realm, and so I thought that starting a conversation about just what a Parsons Coding Club would look like...Rory, I added you because you were one of the first professors we thought of who might be able to offer some guidance.
Hope finals are going well!

Everyone in the thread was really excited about the idea, and most ended up becoming members of the club.

By 12/12 we had already decided to build a website for this new club. I bought par.so a few days later so we could put the site up on par.so/ns. As of writing this, that url is just follow-bait and the site still isn’t online — a case study on faulty time management and prioritization.

The few of us who took it upon ourselves the initiative of getting the club up and running became the founders. In order to become an official New School student organization, we were required to fill arbitrary roles, and so we did.

Parsons Code Club Officers

Joel Califa

President

Mallory Brennan

Vice President

Daniel Udell

Communications

Burak Nehbit

Treasurer

Freddie Andrade

Records

It would take us a few months to get around to completing this process. In the meanwhile, we had other priorities.

The First Semester

2/8/2013

P++ First Meetup!

By the time we first met, our club as called P++, or Parsons Plus Plus. It wasn’t long before we returned to “Parsons Code Club,” and this would not be the last time we changed our organization’s name. After the meeting, Dan sent a message with a recap.

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 2/9/2013

1) The idea of two “official" structured meetings at school per month and two unofficial work jams with beer in between is awesome. I think for the unstructured jams Friday night is a solid time.
2) I like Rory’s idea that we should quickly get a baseline website up and then structure the next two or three lectures at the official meetings around the components that people will need to collaborate effectively on a bigger, better site. We’ll need:
I) Intro to Git ~ Rory or the Advanced JS teacher would be good for this.
II) Intro to Wordpress ~ Will Anderson would be great for this. If he can’t come in, I suppose Burak and I could do it.
III) Maybe we could do a command line day? Or or we could talk about responsive design. Or Mallory brought up talking about effectively organizing code.

2/16/2013

Bring Your Own Logo Party.

Since we were all designers, we decided to crowdsource our initial brand.

Our ambition for Design & Code would grow, and the naming and branding of the organization would adapt — but our much loved first brand for the Parsons Code Club, designed by Robert Vinluan, would stay with us for a long time.

Sidenote: it also happened to be during the one week within which the Harlem Shake was ridiculous in a good way.

3/4/2013

First contact with another student org — Zack Newman of Columbia’s ADICU.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/4/2013

New Things:

1) emailed Pam Klein, who can help us with setting up a club, or can put us in touch with someone who can.
2) Juliette said we should ask Pascal to be our faculty advisor, and that if he couldn’t, she would. Also, Kyle might be up for it, I’ll ask tomorrow.
3) She also said we could use school funds to have the AV club come in and tape lectures professionally.
4) I’m in touch with the Columbia CS version of code club. They’re super excited about having joint hackathons and skillshares.
Discuss.

On 3/9 we began writing our first constitution as a club, dubbed the codestitution, because really we’re all a bunch of nerds. We also tried to figure out a possible curriculum for the club.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/10/2013

I think that the current curriculum makes a lot of sense for the current batch of students. When we meet at 7 to go over the codestitution, we should figure out how to make sure it’s always appropriate, or at least strike a balance. Security and operating systems may be important, but should we teach what we think is important or what the membership wants to learn? etc.
Once we start building a site, we definitely need to implement a ‘voting’ section.

The site would never materialize, but we started putting every week’s subject to a vote on our rapidly growing Facebook group, which proved an invaluable resource in determining what to teach. We scrapped our initial 13-week-long curriculum and decided never to teach something if we’d need people to show up for more than a single session. While this policy is limiting, we’ve found it to be pragmatic and still abide by it.

3/12/2013

Mallory and I finally submit the student org form to the school.

A month goes by, during which we have another meeting with our members. Not much happened during our first semester as a club. Putting our first event together took precedent over everything else. It was our first time corresponding with a third party (GitHub), the school and our membership about potential dates that worked for everyone. We manage to formalize our club right before our first official event.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 4/4/2013

ok so we all suck D:
we need to get some of this shit done guys
there are only 2 weeks until the event

4/10/2013

PCC becomes and official New School student organization.

It came time for our first event. The room we had bookde wasn’t amazing, so the day of the event we found a different room and moved everyone there with the hope that there would be no classes. From the next semester on having a great room every week would be a priority.

4/20/2013

PCC’s first official event: GitHub teaches Git.

Our first event was a huge success, with 40 attendees. As discussed in our first meeting, we started out with a Terminal workshop led by Burak, followed by a Git workshop led by Scott Roberts of GitHub.

5/7/2013

Freddie and Burak are succeeded by Robert and Jayne.

Two of our officers graduated along with the class of 2013. This was the first time our team changed. In their place, we recruited Robert Vinluan and Jayne Lee as our new officers.

Parsons Code Club Officers

Joel Califa

President

Mallory Brennan

Vice President

Daniel Udell

Communications

Robert Vinluan

Treasurer

Jayne Lee

Records

Around this time we also realize that many people think the club is for people who are already great at coding, something we would deal with over the summer and the next semester.

Attempting to Build The Website

Around a month into summer, we opened our new Facebook chat, dubbed Code Club Commanders because, again, we are nerds and dig alliteration. The chat included the 5 current officers plus the two alumni. Burak and Freddie remained very active until they started working full-time the following semester.

6/4/2013

I talk with Emanuel Hahn, president of Tech@NYU, a student organization within NYU that would collaborate with us many times in the future.

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 6/24/2013

Ok if everyone else likes Commanders I’m in

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 6/24/2013

We just need to build a website, which is what this chat thing is for :)
we need a site up by next semester
one that is as awesome as our brand
and does not suck the way we have sucked

No website yet (this is kind of a running joke by now) but the chat has so far amassed over 5000 messages and is key in keeping our team relatively organized and updated. The next day Burak and I have a 200 message long conversation about Turkish and Israeli politics and answer complaints by limiting the chat to (mostly) Code Club business.

We put together a list of website requirements and set the deadline for wireframes to July 2nd 2013. The wireframes come in around July 10th, at which point we critique.

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 7/8/2013

Hey guys! So I propose some wireframes to you all for our awesome website. Conceptually, I think what’s most important is to give ourselves the ability to publish news about our events, and to give members a way to establish credibility for themselves — so each member should get a profile page (including their portfolio and social media links) and have the opportunity to write articles for a sort of “skill share blog"... since we all share news and resources, internally, why not do so publicly? that way the website can become more than just a piece promotional content for Code Club, but a resource for people who want to learn about technology (which is our mission, anyway). Practically, I think that we should emphasize minimalism and responsitivity, which is why the header is inspired by mobile sites, with the little list button that triggers the menu, as opposed to traditional menus on desktop sites. also, unless there’s any objection to the platform, i think we could build this efficiently in wordpress. any thoughts or objections? or shall we get designing and building already!? :)

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 7/8/2013

Yo, thoughts on F/D wireframes. I’ve also kind of forgotten what I designed on my own, so this feedback can also double as critiquing myself :P I’ll upload my stuff later today. Disclaimer: my style of feedback can come through as kind of harsh but honestly I liked the stuff so no offense :).
Navigation/Header:
* I feel like the top bar kind of goes against responsiveness rather than towards it. The whole point of responsive sites is to display an appropriate layout in any device, and having a drop-down menu isn’t very appropriate for a desktop version. I think seeing all the options right away is much more usable than hiding them, and we should put usability above everything else, at least when it comes to navigating the site.
* I think the current-page badge you have on the top right is really novel and cool, but won’t totally work if we don’t hide the navigation.
* I love the dynamism of Rob’s brand, and I think we should integrate it into our header somehow. Not sure how yet. Homepage:
* Not totally sure about this, but if we are going to integrate the brand, I’m not sure a slideshow on the homepage will necessarily work. Let’s see though.
* Education is the #1 thing we’re trying to push I think. However, I’m not sure that skill shares are the way to go. Links to awesome sources will do a much better job of teaching visitors about code. Showcasing PCC skillshares also means that we have to have frequent PCC skillshares or the site will stagnate. That’s not necessarily a problem, but maybe the homepage should have something that’s more likely to be updated regularly such as events/resources?
* Social: A++, totally blanked and didn’t include this in mine. Skill Shares: * Not sure comments are needed. Just a thought. Discuss? Member Profile:
* I don’t think we should have the portfolios on our site. We should link to them and focus on their code stuff.
That’s it for now. Thoughts?

Long conversations ensue filled with long-winded designer opinions about the pros and cons of hamburger buttons and everything else about the wireframes. Say what you will about designers, but we really care about design. These may just be longer than this entire page, but if you are especially curious, ask and you shall receive.

7/26/2013

We meet at the Amicus offices to finalize the site’s structure.

At this point, Rob and I get to actually designing the site. For the first time, it seemed as though it would actually happen. Spoiler: it didn’t.

The idea was that Rob and I would design and code the front-end, while Freddie and Dan took care of the back-end, probably via Wordpress. None of us ended up finishing our respective tasks and the site stagnated again.

8/6/2013

We meet with Juliette Cezzar, the Department Director, to discuss the future of PCC.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 8/16/2013

DT: ~32 students per class CD: ~100 students per class MFA DT: ~100 students per class Illustration: ~70 per class
Juliette expects around 20-30 people to join, I’m more optimistic
Students start learning code in sophomore year
which gives us about 400 students in school who have touched code + alumni
also an idea of getting sponsors for specific events

With a new semester ahead, we are ready to get organized. Mallory brings up a good point about the difficulties of being organized while running the club via Facebook chat

Mallory Brennan

sent via Facebook on 8/20/2013

just attempting to read through the thread, i think it would be good to meet in person soon and get on the same page about everything. I know we are all busy with our own stuff so it’s hard to keep up with this thread so continuously and I have pretty consistently been feeling like I’m playing catch up this summer, especially since I couldn’t be at the meeting with Juliette.
I think it’s really awesome we are being ambitious and a huge thanks to Joel for doing so much work (seriously) in making connections and thinking about sponsors- I just suppose I’m having a hard time thinking in that capacity as we don’t really have a gauge to work from, particularly for the weekly meetings. I think I’m feeling the need for a solid base to work from or something.
Just my thoughts, and like I said I think it’s important for us to meet and for everyone to have a chance to articulate their POV.

We still experience similar problems but have yet to find a better system. Jayne suggests we outline what we need money for and we do. Our to-do list at this point (from a message sent on 8/20/13):

We found that as a student org, there were too many levels of bureaucracy we had to deal with when accepting and spending money from external sources. We also found we couldn’t open a bank account for it without incorporating. Luckily, all we ended up needing at that time was food (pizza as bait and sustenance), which the department agreed to pay for. This allowed us to put off some hard decisions. We intended to get sponsors throughout the semester, but managed to get through the next two semesters without external funding.

The Second Semester

This semester was the start of the actual code club. We were more prepared to run the club this time round, but not QUITE as prepared as we would like. The first meeting of the semester was on the third Friday.

8/29/2013

The PCC is set up with a table at the New School block party. People are interested from all over The New School.

8/27/2013

We schedule our home for the next semester. Room D1200, every Friday at 6pm.

9/20/2013

Our first meeting of the semester

Our first meeting was simple. We asked everyone where they were and where they wanted to be in order to get a baseline for our audience and an understanding of what we should teach, then explained what we had in mind.

After this first meeting, people were excited. We had finally managed to communicate that Code Club was for everyone, not just for those who already knew how to code.

Jayne Lee

sent via Facebook on 9/23/2013

hey guys i just met with Nathan Stilwell who was my teacher from last semester. he’s a front end developer for Gilt Groupe. he’s down for committing as much time as he can to come to our meetings and help people out/be a mentor. he also has some really good ideas and is going to see if some of his friends from Gilt wanna stop by sometimes too. and he’ll be coming this friday! :)

Nathan would come in almost every week, and other teachers came in as well. Our second meeting would be a basic lecture about the structure of the web.

9/27/2013

Dan and Rob lecture on the structure of the web (frontend, backend, databases, etc)

10/4/2013

We experiment with our first non-lecture workshop. Substantially less people show up.

10/5/2013

We co-host our first DemoDays at Techstars NY with Tech@NYU, ADICU, and create@cooper. Rob presents one of his projects along with many other NY students.

10/11/2013

Mal and Nathan teach CSS3 transitions.

10/18/2013

Rob teaches the club how to use APIs, with the colourlovers.com API as an example.

10/25/2013

We set up weekly pizza orders with the department. This is an important milestone because until this point we were paying out of pocket every week, a clearly unsustainable method of running the club.

10/25/2013

Rob and I teach the club how to swagify their workstations with sublime plugins such as package manager and emmet, livereload, and chrome plugins.

We have discussions once every couple of weeks about what we should be teaching. We want to get deeper into code and try some backend languages but most of our membership is still struggling with javascript. Teaching more complex stuff will remain a problem for us due to new people coming every time, but we are constantly searching for new technologies that will work in the context of code club.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 10/29/2013

I think maybe we should keep it to front-end for now, until we gauge how many people want python/ruby/etc

Mallory Brennan

sent via Facebook on 10/29/2013

Ya I think that’s a good call Joel, maybe we could see if there’s any interest in processing as well? Just thinking of the guy who brough in the game he made in processing last week, and everyone’s gotta go thru creative computing.

11/1/2013

We run a “portfolio" tips workshop, teaching how to make sites responsive.

We have a conversation about better systems for our events and expanding our reach.

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

fb events would be on the spammy side I feel

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

that is the goal, formal event pages was just an idea for how to get there
I feel like it might just provide a way for people who wouldn’t generally come to remember that it’s happening
and to gauge who’s coming, which is less important
but: rsvps and reminders are helpful to people who haven’t already penciled it into every friday

Burak Nehbit

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

If we always post, when we have something really important happening it can get lost in the noise
maybe we could have eventbrite for large stuff and facebook for small stuff
eventbrite makes events seem way more official, all the designers + techies are using it

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

we should start getting peoples’ emails for mailchimp
and we’ll just add every email address we’ve ever gotten
(because that isn’t sketchy)
here is my worry:
I just posted about friday right?
someone might see that, think hmm this looks cool, and then odds are that person will forget about it by friday because there is no system to remind them other than happening to see the facebook post again

right now, if for example maurann shares the post about Friday’s event with her friends, and we respost close to Friday, the friend of maurann’s who saw it won’t see it again unless they liked code club, which is most people.
listen I’m really not complaining. I’m saying we can do a better job.

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

how concerned are we with getting non-members right now?
seems like we should focus on getting members to come first
then on getting people to become members.
I just think the right expansion strategy is targeting people who already hear from us first.
not people who don’t yet.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

the question is what are your ambitions for this thing?
because what we have now is nice, I really like it
but personally mine are beyond what we have at the moment

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

i’m only arguing for what we should do first, not what we should do ever

Bored in class, I whipped up an interactive color search thing which everyone seemed to enjoy. We ran a poll (like we do every week) to see whether they wanted to learn how to make it. The first week, portfolio tips won out. The second week was overwhelmingly towards building the color thing.

11/8/2013

I run a workshop called “how to make Joel’s color thing in under an hour." We set our record with over 40 people in attendance AND get our first non-Parsons member from SVA’s Graphic Design program.

11/14/2013

Code Club becomes my senior thesis and I am able to dedicate more of my time towards it.

11/22/2013

Dan teaches how to build sites with Wordpress.

11/24/2013

We co-host our second DemoDays, the largest so far, at the Spotify offices. Four PCC members, including myself, present their projects.

12/3/2013

At this point in the semester, students are preoccupied with their finals. We decided to go all out on our final meeting of the semester — The Code Club Finals Jam.

We Evolve

Meanwhile, we continue discussing how to get external funding. Leslie Henkel helped us get the correct information. She would prove invaluable to the club on many occasions.

Leslie Henkel

sent via Email on 9/27/2013

Yeah, you need to be official. A declining balance Pcard is possible once you get money from your outside sources, and there needs to be a gift letter from them stating the amount gifted to The New School.

A current student could get the card but they would still be bound to New School purchasing policies and procedures and would have to maintain receipts and submit reports. Additionally, whatever they bought would have to be in line with University policy (approved vendors).

You and Freddie should just incorporate and get the money directly! The above system isn’t terrible, but it’s no walk in the park either.

Which prompted the first time we discussed turning the org into a non-profit.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 9/27/2013

we may need to start a nonprofit if we want any amount of autonomy with the money we receive

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 9/27/2013

New York Code Club, founded 2013

Throughout the short history of Design & Code, we have constantly ramped up our ambitions for what this organization could and should accomplish. When we set on the path to becomign a non-profit, we realized that serving only Parsons was not really that impactful. Our mission was to expose designers to code in order to better the industry, and quite a few designers existed outside of Parsons.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 9/27/2013

let’s all discuss the direction we want to take at the end of the meeting today

We invited a few members to help think about how to scope the new organization with us. Were we interested in helping only designers to code? Only design students? Maybe all creatives? Perhaps we could be a Code Club for everyone, differentiated by the fact that we were led by designers rather than developers. After a few meetings and many more emails and Facebook messages, we decided that we would start with design students and leave the door open to expand to all designers in the future. Our first steps would be to expand to other design schools such as RISD and SVA.

Once we set the scope, it was time to think of a new name. Parsons Code Club was great for the local club, and we could exchange Parsons with other design school if we needed to, but we still needed a name for the organization above these local clubs.

Burak Nehbit

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

in case we do this nonprofit thing (which I wholeheartedly support) we need an actual name

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

can we talk about this quickly?
design plus plus is also out, because DPP

Burak Nehbit

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

dpp?

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

any acronym with DP

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

How about D++
or does that exist

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

dplusplus.com
dplus.org is avail

Burak Nehbit

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

I’m more concerned with getting stuff off the ground as a non-school group
do we have a plan for that? seems like we should have one
1) nonprofit status 2) bank account for sponsorships 3) posting to local design schools

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

not yet
ISS is entirely unsure about whether I can even be on a nonprofit board

Another thing I dealt with between this time and when we filed for incorporation and 501(c)3 status a few months later was figuring out whether I’d be deported once I joined the board.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

designerscode.com? only $1895
designandtech.org is available. not saying this is the right name but how fitting right?
designandcode.co designandhack.com

It is worth noting that designandcode.co is the domain we ended up getting after the next evolution of the club and designandhack.org is the domain we ended up getting for our hackathon, both about 5 months later and after more brainstorming. Things come full circle.

Burak Nehbit

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

hackthedesign

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

sounds like chopping up an eames chair

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

design@code
designXcode
codeXdesign

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

designXcode - iOS design firm
codexdesign - Gutenberg bible design firm

Burak Nehbit

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

designdevelop

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

people don’t know what develop is

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

really? people know what developers are

Burak Nehbit

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

out of context development means a lot of things
if I wasn’t a designer development would mean civil engineering to me

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

yup, even if you were an architect, or actually anything that wasn’t in the tech scene.
designers know they are designers, but they want to know code.
there’s a reason code.org is called code.org

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

remember the people that asked us if code club was like ’encryption’ at the street fair?

This message chain goes on forever and is already edited for clarity.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

I actually don’t want to lose the code club feeling
parsons code club
pratt code club
risd code club

I think designcodeclub is the clearest
or designercodeclub

Burak Nehbit

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

I’m also a little against having [code club] in name, it just doesn’t sound too nice to me
it’s ambiguous for starters

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

It makes sense when it’s attached to schools
which is why the uk org uses it
I don’t think it’s that great outside that context

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

yeah me neither, but that is a good context to begin with
I like designmeetscode. That goes beyond.

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

codeducation
design<3code
design&&code
i like the design . code format
where . is meets or loves or && or X or something

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/3/2013

designlessthanthreecode
designbutalsocode
designercodecrew
uscodegress
designlearncode
codecodecode
designpluscode
justaddcode
codesigned
educode
creativecode
what if
we stayed parsonscodeclub
and instead of changing our organization
the org that we created was called
designercodeclubS, plural
it’s pretty much what we’re talking about
but the difference is, it’s very clearly a ring of clubs
and not a single one
I think that makes it better
creativecodeclub?

This is just a small excerpt of one of the many conversations and brainstorm sessions. We end up with an exceptionally long list of potential names, but both our selected name, and the name we would end up selecting the third time round were mentioned during this first conversation.

We finally selected the name “Creative Code Club.” “Creative” made clear the target audience, “Code” made clear the subject, and “Club” made clear that it was meant for a school setting.

Understandably, not all of us were interested in the responsibilities of running a non-profit. Rob, Dan and I decided to take it upon ourselves to build this larger organization.

Branding Creative Code Club

Rob’s PCC branding was fantastic, but it was a very initial idea. We never took the time to think about what our brand should represent. Along with our new name, a rebranding was in order.

The first task was figuring out what we wanted the brand to communicate. We put together a list of words that we want the brand to imbue.

We also took inspiration from generative brands such as MIT Media Lab and Current. As an organization that teaches code, it seemed fitting to have a brand with an element of code.

11/30/2013

I start the rebranding process and send everyone my first sketch.

The idea was to allow for different schools to exist within a single unified brand system. This started a conversation regarding whether unity was a positive thing in this case, where exactly local chapters would fit within the larger organization and why they would want to be part of it.

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 11/30/2013

Well, perhaps it should always be DCC
and the university chapters can make up their own logos
because they’ll be independently run, to an extent

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/30/2013

that’s why I thought maybe an independent color scheme?
different logos might lend to competition rather than unity

I think there should be a main site
dcc.com/parsons or dcc.com/risd

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 11/30/2013

but do the individual ones need to follow the same design language? that’s the question
i just envision the different schools have drastically different visual strategies
parsons and risd for instance are different beasts

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/30/2013

I guess that’s true, but the question is whether you see all clubs as part of a central organism
I think it’d definitely be easier to provide them with the framework that way
or if each club is its own thing with a very weak link to the central thing
there are different pros and cons to each, not sure which is better

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 11/30/2013

yeah, it’s a question of centralization versus decentralization

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/30/2013

other option is to call it Creative Code Club
and then all school will just have a Creative Code Club
then the site could have sections for each school
you either look at the separate clubs as subsets of the overarching club (with the perks of being such, for instance funding or something like that) - or you look at it as a ring of clubs that are weakly tied and have more autonomy
I like creative mornings as an example for this kind of thing

also maybe the nodes on this logo could animate and bob

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 11/30/2013

I think we have to look at it from their perspective too. We have to be more valuable than then doing their own thing

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/30/2013

yeah, and I think we SHOULD be more valuable
regardless of how we set it up, that is something we should strive to be
if we provide a
* site
* events
* connections
* funding
* invites to certain events
+ anything else we can think of.
we want to kickstart these clubs, you know? regardless of brand.

Burak Nehbit

sent via Facebook on 11/30/2013

yeah. we should be able to say: ‘here’s your logo, here’s stickers, we’re throwing three speakers on your way in the next month, you have all our phones, here’s your mention on the website, go do awesome stuff’

I’d say this shouldn’t be too thorny of an issue
at the worst case every chapter could have their own logos and ours side by side
mit media lab kind of branding looks amazing but it mostly works because it’s a single organization giving unique logos to its people
an organization giving logos to other rather separate organizations would not be taken as kindly maybe

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 11/30/2013

this could be a single organization too

For a while, I continue playing off of the first logo for a while to see where it goes.

I then have an idea for a new direction. The 3 Cs lend themselves to a configuration where each C is nested within the previous one. In action, this brand would be written in code and each concentric C would have a different rotation every time the logo was displayed or printed. It could also be animated

Over the next few days, I develop this idea further.

I build an Android app that demonstrates the interactive and generative nature of this brand.

The logo looks great but has a few problems that end up being dealbreakers.

I scrap the brand and continue sketching and trying to find something solid. I ask a friend, Flora Chan for some help.

I continue sketching possible directions and finally the idea of three Cs in random places in the lockup, connected by lines, catches my attention.

I develop another app that maps the point where you tap along the Y axis to the spread of the Cs on the screen. It’s a delightful experience and results in many interesting logos.

This is the brand which we’ll use throughout the next semester, until our next evolution as an organization.

Becoming a Non-Profit

To do everything we intended to do with the organization, we needed to accept funding, and to do that we needed to be incorporated. From the start, becoming a 501(c)3 non-profit seemed like the best route. We had never intended to make any money off of the Code Club, and a non-profit suited our altruistic origins. With 501(c)3 status, we could then accept grants as well as tax-deductable donations, and grow the organization. We spoke about it several times over the course of running the club.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 8/27/2013

I met with someone who said we might need to set up a nonprofit for it.
this is mostly for the sponsors to be able to make tax deductible donations

...and a month later:

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 9/27/2013

Let’s see what the non-profit sector entails

When we finally got around to it, Dan was already planning on filing an application for his other project, Wikitongues, to become a non-profit, so I asked him whether he could take the lead on our process as well.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 2/8/2014

can you be on the nonprofit forms thing? since you’re already on a roll with it for wikitongues

We started a Facebook chat called “C3 Board of Directors.”

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 2/13/2014

hey boys, i’ve been doing a lot of non-profit research and have put together a folder in drive for our eyes only, called Legal. it contains a to-do list before March 3rd — the date by which we should have filed with New York state as a non-profit organization — and a draft of our Articles of Incorporation, which we need to include with our application
one last document we need is a set of by-laws by which the organization’s board of directors needs to comply
thankfully, we get to write them, so we decide what those rules are which means we shouldn’t make up rules we don’t want to comply with.

2/18/2014

Our first meeting as the yet-unofficial board of Creative Code Club

We work on crafting our mission statement for our incorporation application.

3/4/2014

We file our incorporation paperwork.

The mission statement turned out not to be crafted well enough

3/25/2014

Our incorporation application is rejected for being “too vague.”

The rejection was actually serendipitous as it came during a period of transition from what the Creative Code Club was at the time to something more ambitious.

We took advantage of the rejection to draft a new mission statement that fit more closely with our new scope.

Unfortunately, Dan left the board shortly thereafter to focus on other projects, and at least 3 board members are required to file for 501(c)3 status, so the process is currently on hold.

Parsons Code Club: Third Semester

A few things would happen during this semester. We’d be getting by far the highest attendance since the club’s initial founding. The first new code club branch would be launched in another design school. We’d be organizing our first hackathon, developing connections with companies and other student organizations.

In terms of the Parsons Creative Code Club, we felt as though we had a great grasp of what had to be done. We had a tentative schedule with a number of guest speakers and a brand new room in a brand new building. More than enough outlets for everyone and 3 large screens which we could also use for remote sessions. It was looking to be a great semester, and in most ways, it was.

Unlike previous semesters, we were ready relatively early. Our first meeting was on the second Friday of the semester.

2/7/2014

First meeting of our first semester, kind of like the first meeting in the previous semester.

Our new classroom was completely full on the first day, mostly with new students.

2/14/2014

Mallory, Rob and Jayne run a valentines-day-themed front-end refresher (“You had me at Hello World”) while Dan and I go to PennApps.

From this point on, we tried to have more people come in to talk rather than run the workshops ourselves.

2/21/2014

Mattan Griffel of One Month Rails comes in to give an intro to Rails in a workshop called “how to teach yourself how to code.” Fifty people show up. Slides are available here.

2/22/2014

Another DemoDays, this time at Cooper Union.

2/28/2014

Ashu Desai of MakeGamesWith.Us comes in to teach an intro to iOS development by making Flappy Bird. We invite the New School Game Club to join us, as our weekly meetings overlap.

After the Flappy Bird workshop, I decide to take a step back from the Parsons Code Club and focus on the non-profit, the hackathon, and the new branch at SVA.

3/7/2014

Instead of our weekly meeting, we co-hosted a mini design hackathon at the Squarespace offices

3/14/2014

Will Anderson came in to teach us how to make our own Twitter bots — accounts that automatically tweet or retweet based on programmed parameters..

3/21/2014

Justin Bakse comes in to teach us how to create generative art.

Near the end of the semester, things taper off. We hadn’t planned any workshops in advance and stop advertising them on our channels. Most members stop coming. We have one final session — a finals jam — and begin organizing the next semester so we’ll have something every single week and a schedule in advance.

5/9/2014

Our second semesterly finals jam.

Our First New Branch

Since the moment we decided to become more than just Parsons Code Club, we wanted to bring the club to other schools and create a network of designers who are passionate about learning to code. The idea of bringing SVA into the fold was floating around since the start. As another great design school in the same area as Parsons, extending the Code Club there made sense for our pilot.

In late January 2014, I reach out to SVA through Liz Danzico and to RISD through Nancy Skolos.

Joel Califa

sent via Email on 1/24/2014

Hey Liz,

I contacted you on Twitter last night. I run the Parsons Code Club, a student org we started at Parsons last year with the goal of empowering designers by teaching them how to turn their technology ideas into reality by themselves.
In the last two semesters we’ve been really successful. Students are excited and we get around 20-30 students at our weekly meeting and 40-50 at special events such as workshops or guest lecturers. A lot of people who didn’t know javascript when we began feel more comfortable with it now.

I’m writing to you because we are in the process of decoupling the Code Club from Parsons (as Creative Code Club since we’re big on alliteration) and expanding to other design schools. I was wondering whether you had any students in mind who might be interested in taking charge of founding a Code Club at SVA, either within the IXD program or outside it.
We’re still trying to figure out how we can help local chapters as a national organization. Right now we’re thinking of providing funding, a website, a toolkit for running the organization, hosting cross-org events, and so forth. We’d love to hear what else we can do.

If you’d like any more information or have any advice for us, I’d love to talk about it!

Thanks!

Liz forwards the emails to the MFA IxD students currently at SVA.

Meanwhile, word trickles down at RISD to Evelyn Eastmond, a teacher who runs an organization called Code Studio, which is almost exactly the same as Code Club except run by teachers. We discuss launching a branch of Code Club there, a venture that is still a possibility but was never explored. A day later, I get an email from Sam Wander, an student at SVA’s MFA IxD program.

Sam Wander

sent via Email on 1/29/2014

Hi Joel,

I’m on the Interaction Design MFA program at SVA, and received the below from our course administrator. CC’ing my classmate Luke, who’s in the first year with me.

We’re interested in what you’re doing with the Code Club! Our class is from all different backgrounds, but pretty much none of us had significant coding experience before we started the program last fall.

We learned some Processing and Arduino stuff, and touched upon jQuery.

Personally, I’ve really taken to writing code and am keen to learn more.

We’d be interested in hearing how the clubs work, and if there’s maybe some way for SVA to be involved.

Thanks,
Sam.

Luke is currently in Europe, so we wait until he returns to schedule a meeting, about a month later.

2/20/2014

Sam, Luke and I meet and talk about a potential Code Club at SVA.

Joel Califa

sent via Email on 2/23/2014

Hey Sam, Luke, it was meeting you guys this week. I’m excited to see what happens next!
I’ve added Pedro Almeida to this email, the Graphic Design undergrad I was telling you about. Pedro frequents the Parsons Code Club and was interested to hear how he could help.

Pedro - Sam and Luke are two MFA IxD students. When we met, we discussed how it’d be great if your club spanned all of SVA rather than just the Master’s programs. They’re both awesome and I think you can do great things together.

As always, if you need anything, just ask.

Discuss!

Sam Wander

sent via Email on 2/26/2014

Hi Joel (and Pedro).

We’ve just had the conversation with Liz, chair of our program. She’s happy for us to host it!

Weds evenings look like the best option. Liz suggested doing the first and last weeks of the month, as there are sometimes events here that we’d need to work around. Not sure how you feel about the frequency (I think you do every week at Parsons?).

We’re also going to try to arrange pizzas.

So... @ Pedro, be good to meet you and discuss how you might like to be involved?

@ Joel let’s talk about details. As we mentioned before, we don’t feel confident enough in our own coding skills to ‘run’ classes but would be very happy hosting guest tutors and managing the associated admin around the sessions.

Best,
Sam.

Joel Califa

sent via Email on 2/26/2014

Sam, that’s fantastic!
Like I said when we met, this is all about you guys. If you feel that twice a month is the way to go, then that’s what you should do.

Let’s meet soon and you can tell me what kind of help you’d like. We can help arrange guest speakers, workshops, etc, or perhaps run you through our strategies of getting people to come. We’re filing our nonprofit paperwork on Monday. Hopefully we’ll soon be able to provide financial support as well.

I’m really excited to see where this can go. Let me know when is good for you.

Cheers,
Joel

3/2/2014

Sam, Luke, Pedro, Robert and I meet and talk about getting the SVA Code Club up and running.

After the meeting, we message back and forth and they find the best date for the first meeting. The plan is for Rob and I to come in and lecture about how the web is built. The session is planned the same way that all of our first sessions in previous semesters were.

4/2/2014

The first SVA Code Club meeting. This is also the first Code Club meeting ever that is not at Parsons.

A week later we have another SVA Code Club and run a CSS and HTML workshop.

4/2/2014

Rob and I teach CSS & HTML at SVA Code Club

We opened this new club pretty late in the semester so there wasn’t a whole lot of planning involved. Over the summer, we’ll set up an organized schedule for both clubs and start cross-publicizing. In the meanwhile, this is our now organizational structure:

Design & Code Leadership

Joel Califa

President

Daniel Udell

Board Member

Robert Vinluan

Board Member

Parsons Branch

Joel Califa

President

Mallory Brennan

Vice President

Daniel Udell

Communications

Robert Vinluan

Treasurer

Jayne Lee

Secretary

SVA Branch

Sam Wander

Leader

Luke Stern

Leader

Design & Hack

The idea for a Code Club hackathon existed from the day we started it. The idea for a joint hackathon equally attended by designers and developers was discussed as early as 3/4/2013, when I met with Zack Newman of ADICU. We discussed a possible hackathon attended by Parsons and Columbia students. Three months later I discussed the same idea with Emanuel Hahn of Tech@NYU the first time we talked. Only year or so later would this idea materialize.

Emanuel Hahn

sent via Facebook on 6/4/2013

hey joel
yeah so i’m the president of tech@nyu - techatnyu.org and we’re always looking for ways to collaborate with other schools
i thought what you guys were doing at parsons code club was awesome and i wanted to think of ways we could work together/hold events together

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 6/4/2013

sweet
I’ve been in touch with columbia’s adi
we were thinking of doing a designer/develop hackathon next year
if we could get all 3 schools involved, that could be amazing
One of our missions with the code club (not official but seeeecret) is to also get developers thinking like designers

Emanuel Hahn

sent via Facebook on 6/4/2013

do you guys have a website or something? i would love to learn more about parsons code club

Running joke. Putting together a hackathon has always been on our to-do list, but about half a year goes by before I pick it up again. In early December I decide to make the Code Club hackathon a priority for the following semester (January—May 2014). Serendipity strikes when Alexey Komissarouk, founder of PennApps, invites me to Hackcon, a conference for student hackathon organizers from all over the country. Before the conference, I talk with other NYC student leaders about my plans and word gets back to Zack from ADICU.

Zack Newman

sent via Email on 1/30/2014

Subject: adi+pcc?

hey joel,

wanted to reconnect!

* i heard that there is a PCC hackathon? any deets?

* any ideas for adi+pcc collab this semester? maybe at amicus? (you’re involved in demodays, right? but something beyond that would be cool)

cheers,
zack

Zack Newman

sent via Email on 1/30/2014

Hey Zack,

I was planning on emailing you this week about it! :)
The direction I’m thinking about is a designer/developer student hackathon with an emphasis on well designed products. Maybe teams will need designers who push code to quality. Not sure regarding the details yet.
I’d love for it to be organized by NYC schools (ADICU, Tech@NYU, Code Club, etc), but for the event itself to be for anyone interested, not just students from NYC.

You, me and Emanuel should discuss this, see where it goes. What do you think?

Regarding other collaborations, I’m putting together a schedule with weekly guest lectures. Maybe we can finally do a skill swap thing, where we come lecture about design and you guys come lecture about code?

Cheers,
Joel

Right before Hackcon, I was given access to a document shared between hackathon organizers. My impression of being able to schedule a hackathon pretty much anytime was quickly shattered with the realization that almost every weekend was taken by at least 2 other hackathons. The only date that made any sense was April 18th, and so that is when we planned for.

Joel Califa

sent via Email on 1/31/2014

Subject: Hackathon

Hey Jane,

Turns out scheduling a hackathon is harder than we’d anticipated.
I’ve gotten access to a private document containing all published/unpublished hackathon dates, and the only actually free dates (where we’d only clash with relatively unpopular hackathons) are the weekend March 21st (during which I’ll be in Israel) or maybe the end of April, when there are 2 weeks without events for some reason. I’ll have a better idea after this weekend.

I don’t think it’s necessary to be the biggest hackathon or anything. Starting out small makes sense, and either way this is a relatively niche thing. But it’s generally not a good idea to host a small music event on the day of the grammys right?

What do you think?

Cheers,
Joel

2/1/2014

Rob, Freddie, Dan and I go to Hackcon.

Hackcon is a fantastic experience, with a hundred student organizers and, over the course of two days, talks by organizers of the largest student hackathons in the world. Brynn Claypoole of PennApps gives a talk on Logistics and Crisis Management. Organizers from HackMIT talk about building their organization and those from Hacktech describe a crisis right before their hackathon at Caltech. Chris from MHacks talks about team recruitment and development. We discuss women and minorities in hackathons, proper codes of conducts, the sponsors’ perspective, budgeting, and many more important aspects of organizing teams and events. In between we party and get to know eachother, building relationships that will end up helping our efforts and adding a lot of experience to our team.

The moment it ends I get in touch with the other NY student tech leaders to see where everyone is at.

Joel Califa

sent via Email on 2/4/2014

Subject: Design & Hack

Hey Emanuel, Zack,

I want to schedule lunch/coffee some time this week to talk about this hackathon I have in mind. I have a pretty specific vision for this and I want to get your input and see if and what level of involvement you and your organizations would like.

I’m trying to plan the event for April 19-20. It’s gonna be a HUGE project for the amount of time between now and then, and I could use all the help I can get.

Let me know when you’re free :)

Cheers, Joel

2/6/2014

I meet with Emanuel and Steven from Tech@NYU, and Zack from ADICU to discuss Design & Hack for the first time.

The vision I had for Design & Hack played off of other student hackathons, where students felt the absence of designers. This hackathon would be differentiated by an emphasis on design. The idea was to put many designers and developers in one space and have them collaborate on projects, through which they would learn from each other. Emphasis would be put on education. Developers would leave this event with a new appreciation for design, and designers would leave with a new understanding of programming. Judging would also focus heavily on usability rather than a brief mention of visual design. The final projects from such a hackathon would potentitally be of a higher caliber than most hackathons.

Everyone present was excited about the idea. Zack was in charge of DevFest at the time, and said that the ADICU student leaders wouldn’t have time to contribute. Emanuel and Steven were on board. We set a time to meet with a larger team and put together a game plan.

2/10/2014

I meet with Robert Vinluan (from the Code Club), Emanuel Hahn, Steven Chan and Ethan Resnick (from Tech@NYU) and Eric Leong (from create@cooper).

During the meeting we We went over a guide to budgeting a hackathon written by Ishaan Gulrajani of HackMIT, discussed potential spaces, sponsors, judges and how to frame the hackathon. The notes from this first meeting:

Goals:

  1. Build lasting relationships between developers and designers.
  2. Make it a learning experience rather than just a making experience.
  3. Turn it into THE annual design hackathon.
  4. After: designers should feel comfortable going to other hackathons

Notes:

  • Maybe have a research stage in the hackathon
    • Find a way to make this fun
    • Have a talk about research basics?
    • Mechanical Turk for quick surveys?
  • Expose people based on interests. Make pools of people for grouping.
  • Are the time constraints of a hackathon what we want?
  • Target specific schools to come
  • Design mentors
  • Dev mentors
  • Is it process over product? Message that from the beginning
    • Two rounds of judging, first round critique
    • Specific type of working / process
    • Set out from the start so everyone feels comfortable working in a collaborative process
    • Developers tend to forget about designers
  • Messaging has to be very specific. Not too weird so people step out.

To do: figure out the cost of these things.

  • Event space
  • Furniture
  • Power
    • Extension cords
    • Internet
  • Transportation
    • For hackers
    • For mentors / judges
  • Food & drinks
    • Local vendors
    • Redbull, energy drinks, etc
    • Account for tip
  • Swag
    • Tshirts
    • Beanies
    • Decals
  • Lodging, or maybe a space
  • Projectors, mics, etc
  • Prize money
  • Aim for more money
    • Money is good.

We would soon put together a more in depth budget spreadsheet and conclude that our minimum budget for an acceptable hackathon was around $40,000 and the maximum was we’d need if we overspent on quality was $90,000. We would shoot for something in between.

The people in attendance, along with Dan Udell, made up the core organizing team working on Design & Hack at the time. A hackathon is a huge project, especially one with the scale I had in mind in the timeframe we were stuck with. We decided to let the Parsons Code Club focus on the local branch, while the board of the Creative Code Club (Rob, Dan and I) would take initiative on the hackathon. From Tech@NYU we had Emanuel, Steven, and Ethan. The organizers behind create@cooper did not have time to help out an organization, but Eric was on board so, considering our collaboration with them on DemoDays, we put their logo on the site anyway.

The same day I start a group chat on Facebook for organizers of Design & Hack. This chat would grow to accumulate 2200 messages.

Meanwhile, Rob and I start working on the branding for the event

Though we experiment with other titles in the beginning, the name for Design & Hack sticks rather quickly. Hackathons suffer from a lack of designers, and ours was attempting to solve this problem by making designers feel comfortable in the space. Hackathons are daunting to many designers and without “design” in the name, they might not understand that they had a place at the event. ”Hack“ is important for the same reason. Developers need to understand that while this event is designer-friendly, it is in a way just like any other hackathon.

2/7/2014

I send Rob my initial sketches for the lockup, the earliest of which I put together during Hackcon. The idea is to have very design-y lettering but to end the swashes with sparks that communicate technology and creativity.

I continue working on the lettering, using a strict grid and trying for a techy feel.

The logo now feels too techy, so I incrementally tone it down by adding curves.

I send Rob the Illustrator file on the 20th. He redraws the curves from scratch, making them more human than techy and thickening the weight of the strokes.

We decide to lose the sparks at the end of the swashes and replace the pen with a spark. The logo is getting too design-y as it is and we want to make it clear that this is also an event for developers.

Some people confuse the spark with a fuse, others confuse it with a dandelion. I decide to replace it with a plug. It’s not a symbol inherently tied to developers, but it does manage to make the logo more relevant. After some more refinement to the curves, strokes and weights, we had our final logo.

We now have our brand and are ready to begin working on the website.

Ten days after the initial meeting, almost no progress is made on the search for spaces. Most places can’t house 400 people, and none of the organizers except for myself and Steven have reached out to people yet. The chat remains dead until our second meeting, with about a month and a half to get everything done.

2/26/2014

I meet with Rob, Emanuel, Steven, Ethan, Eric and Cheryl who joins the team and takes charge of catering quotes. Rob takes charge of getting quotes on swag.

2/26/2014

Dan reaches out to Spotify and Etsy to see if they can host the event.

3/1/2014

I reach out to Kickstarter, App Nexus to see if they’d be willing to host in their new offices.

At this point we are also getting the site on track. I send Rob the initial wireframe.

He responds with an initial visual design.

3/5/2014

AppNexus responds that they can’t host. We finish registering our backup location: 4 entire floors at Parsons.

The Facebook chat begins to pickup and the other organizers start searching for spaces. I go to SXSW and get in touch with new potential sponsors such as IBM Design, Saatchi & Saatchi and KPCB.

3/7/2014

Etsy responds that they can’t host.

3/8/2014

Rob and I finish the site design and I upload the first version of our sponsorship tiers from SXSW.

I meet one on one with John Maeda at SXSW and get some feedback on Code Club and Design & Hack. He is open to keynote but needs to check if he can. He also provides me with some priceless advice that really affects my vision for the organization.

At the same time, hype begins to grow surrounding Design & Hack. People from all over the country start asking about travel reimbursements and buses without us even putting a site online.

On 3/11 I discuss the sponsorship package with Mike Swift, who tells me about his idea for a modular funding system, which I then put into action. These modular tiers ended up working in our favor. When companies couldn’t do a certain tier but were interested in sponsoring close to that level, we mixed and matched what we had to offer until we reached a price they were fine with.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/11/2014

From Swift:
your base tier would be $1.5k - $1,500 base
your next tier would be $3k - 2 x $500 /day table + $500 logo on shirt
Next
Low end recruiting would be $12k - $2000 recruiter, $5k resumes, $2k distribute recruiting materials
High end recruiting would be $14k-ish - $500 / hour for interviews

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/11/2014

actual numbers would be something along these lines:
1 x Co-host = $16k x 1
2 x High end recruiting = $10k x 3 = $20k
4 x Low end recruiting = $8k x 3 = $32k
6 x API / Marketing = $2000 x 6 = $12k
I think this actually sounds pretty solid
let me know what you think so I can put everything together and send it out tomorrow

We deliberate whether to include the co-host tier. If we’d have John Maeda deliver the keynote, we couldn’t include that in the sponsorship package. If we hosted the event at the Kickstarter offices, we couldn’t have a different company be the co-host. Soon after, Kickstarter answers.

3/11/2014

Kickstarter gets back to us. They can’t host this year’s event as they have yet to settle into their offices. With no time to find a new space, we decide to make the best of our backup location at Parsons.

We have some internal discussions and I get some feedback from people with more experience running hackathons and we get to our final sponsorship numbers. They are up at our sponsorship page.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/11/2014

1* 17,000 = 17,000
1 * 12,000 = 12,000
2 * 9000 = 18,000
4 * 3,500 = 14,000
6 * 2,500 = 15,000

76

In the meanwhile, Eric checks whether we can use Cooper Union as escrow, since none of our organizations are incorporated at this point. We end up using Major League Hacking as escrow for the event.

3/15/2014

We launch the Design & Hack website.

On March 15th we finally launch the Design & Hack website. In the first 5 minutes we get 20 signups. In the first day we get over 1000 unique visitors and 250 signups. The next day I fly to Israel and spend the next 2 weeks working on Design & Hack remotely.

The team begins to stagnate again and on 3/16 Dan and I try to get things back on track.

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 3/16/2014

100 likes! Go team
Just a note that if we’re going to get this thing done right, it is now hustle time more than ever
It’s pretty remarkable that we’ve managed to get this close to pulling off an event on this scale in such a short period of time, but we also need to be clear that we still don’t have any committed sponsors
there’s a lot of potential up in the air, i know i’ve been talking to shutterstock, spotify and etsy, joel and cheryl have been reaching out
but we need to make serious moves if we’re going to hit our 80k target
how are the rest of you doing? any leads? i know this chat can be a bit much sometimes but a check-in from everyone would be helpful

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/16/2014

I agree. Let’s start having daily checkins with everyone. We don’t have to all be here at the same time, but every day we should post what we did that day.

In the following days Cheryl looks into more food vendors, Emanuel works on promoting the event. Dan and I continue to reach out to sponsors. I put together a list of sponsors and begin delegating outreach.

3/17/2014

Adobe reaches out to us about sponsoring. This is the first sponsor we haven’t reached out to first.

At this point no sponsor has signed on yet. We think about widening our net and reaching out to sponsors unrelated to design and tech. We quickly decide against it, not wanting to hurt the experience of Design & Hack by bringing in irrelevant sponsors. We continue reaching out to sponsors other hackathons wouldn’t be able to tap, such as type foundries and design firms.

At the same time, there are complications in the space registration at Parsons and we lose our auditorium for kickoff and closing. The chat has stagnated again with only 3 or so of us consistently active. I begin to stress that we aren’t working hard enough.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/19/2014

guys, is everyone here hustling? I’m afraid we’re going to fail

We’re less than a month before the event. We have zero money and no auditorium for kickoff or closing.
The reality is we need to all actually hustle NOW or this isn’t going to happen
and at the very least be active in this chat.
On the other hand, we’ve had over 3000 unique visitors to the site, almost 300 signups already and a ton of excitement. This thing can be HUGE. It can be a key annual/biannual event in the intersection of design and tech and it’ll be ours.

we have signups from MIT, RISD, Brown, Princeton, Cornell, Maryland, Penn, Tufts, Stanford, Harvard to name just a few (and all of our schools obviously)
But companies take time to send money, and we have less than a month. Emails need to go out TODAY guys

Emanuel Hahn

sent via Facebook on 3/19/2014

sorry it’s difficult for me to participate while at work, but i am collecting the emails and drafting letters for my companies
one thing is we’re asking design companies with not that much capital...
I sent the sponsor info to my boss

Emanuel Hahn

sent via Facebook on 3/19/2014

I’ve been sending emails the past few days
to contacts i know
i think it might be worthwhile to mention in emails that we’re willing to accept smaller sponsorships too
i think 2500 as the lowest tier might turn some people off
but there are people that we still wanna get
that could give, say, 1000
i’m talking about smaller companies
not the adobes of the world
but more like app devshops and such

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 3/19/2014

gonna send out a few today
currently writing one for H&Co, which still seems weird to type instead of H&FJ
what have been reasons for passing up sponsorship so far? just curious

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/19/2014

most companies set budgets in november
Typekit for instance
so many don’t have any leftover cash to do things not in the budget
Flatiron School just said this isn’t right for them
no one else has passed yet for me, they’re all deliberating

We start hustling to get an auditorium space. Eric reaches out to Cooper Union, Emanuel reaches out to several schools within NYU and we try to find alternate spaces at Parsons and The New School. We also start organizing volunteers though our volunteer page. This is an incredibly fruitful day, and the great bulk of messages in this thread (1,500/2,200) are from this day forward.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/19/2014

I think I’m going to build
a volunteer form for the hackathon
that we can send to people
we need to start getting volunteers
to give out food, do registration, etc
answer questions, do a bag check room, stuff like that

Emanuel Hahn

sent via Facebook on 3/19/2014

yes
use it to recruit future members for CCC

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/19/2014

that’s a good idea, but the biggest value of having 3 orgs here is probably getting a lot of volunteers from all of them

Emanuel Hahn

sent via Facebook on 3/19/2014

yes. maybe we can just put a volunteer button on the web page and get ppl to sign up there
we can also tweet/fb it
’wanna volunteer for the greatest event in the history of mankind?’

A day later, due to time constraints, a few of the organizers bow out of the event and some of those still organizing make it clear that they don’t have much time to dedicate. The team is now comprised of me, Rob, Dan, Emanuel and Cheryl. In a week or so Steven will also return to the fold.

3/20/2014

Several team members bow out of organizing the event.

Cheryl codes a script to see how many schools with have signed up for the event.

3/20/2014

We now have almost a hundred different schools signed up for the event.

We continue reaching out to print shops for quotes on swag and emailing with sponsors. Among others, Dan is in touch with Etsy and Shutterstock, I am in touch with Facebook and Squarespace, Rob is in touch with foundries, and Emanuel is in touch with Stripe and IDEO. Most sponsors seem interested and things are looking up. Cheryl puts together a list of more potential sponsors. We talk about how to cold email sponsors. Between 3/17 and 3/29 I am in touch with around 50 potential sponsors that fit our criteria.

Emanuel Hahn

sent via Facebook on 3/21/2014

question: what’s your subject for cold emails?
just trying different things and i wanna see what’s been working and what hasn’t
a lot of my emails are simply starting with “Sponsoring Design&Hack” and I feel like it’s very subpar atm

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 3/21/2014

I usually say [company] + Design and Hack?
The emphasis is on collaborating rather than giving us money

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/21/2014

Mine is either that or
“Design & Hack — the first student hackathon focused on design”
for some context
rule of thumb seems to be the shorter the better

distill it down to the most impressive things about us (300 signups in less than a week from all over, how we’re doing a 400 person hackathon) and what we like about them (something they did, or their design focus)
make it clear we aren’t picking these people arbitrarily. Probably 3 short paragraphs tops
obviously I could be wrong

I send some examples and put together a detailed guide of how I reach out to sponsors for the rest to read.

3/21/2014

None of the auditoriums we were trying to get at Parsons and The New School were available. NYU and Cooper have yet to answer us.

We begin looking for alternate spaces that are less standard. At some point, we even look into hosting the kickoff at Washington Square Park (Emanuel’s radical idea) and find out what the required paperwork is for the city to let us do it. We are told that if John Maeda, who we are still in touch with, delivers the keynote, then we may have enough political power within the school to get the auditorium for kickoff and closing. A few days later John Maeda responds that, unfortunately, he cannot participate during our specific dates. Emanuel keeps emailing facilities people around NYU in the hopes of finding an auditoirum space large enough.

3/23/2014

Since we are a few organizers down, I recruit Sam Hutch to the team.

Within the first few hours, Sam reorganizes our entire Google Drive folder and builds smart spreadsheets that are easier for us to collaborate on.

3/23/2014

Webtype signs on as our first sponsor.

On my end, I am still stressing about getting sponsors and try to get the team hustling harder and reach out to many new sponsors. Getting our first sponsor breathes new life into the organizing team. We expect answers from many of the large sponsors we’ve reached out to this week. I design our invoice and send it to Webtype.

The next few days are comprised of us trying to get word out to as many relevant sponsors as possible. We are making some headway and getting a few sponsors, but we missed the boat on a lot of companies who had already closed their budgets. Soon enough Facebook and Squarespace sign on. We start talking about the next event and how if we start planning right after this one, we’ll be able to close a lot of sponsors who are interested but don’t have the budget.

At this point we have the budget to pull off the event, but more modestly than we had intended. We also experience some difficulties with the largest rooms on one of the floors we’d reserved at Parsons. The organizers begin expressing doubts. I am still in Israel at this point and due to the time difference am not present for this long conversation.

Emanuel Hahn

sent via Facebook on 3/29/2014

Nothing, was just thinking about this hackathon planning. I guess it’s always on my mind, given it’s about 3 weeks away
I was chatting with Jon Chan today (who put on NYUHacks), and I was wondering if we could put on a LEAN Design&Hack
I feel like our aim of $70,000 might be unnecessarily high
probably half that is good enough. especially because we don’t really need to reimburse a ton of ppl

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 3/29/2014

I agree with you.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking myself, given that we were supposed to hear from most of our major potential sponsors by yesterday and didn’t
That fact, coupled with the various space-related challenges we’ve been facing, means that we’re setting ourselves up to put a large-scale event and fail
And look, there’s still time to solve some of these challenges

Emanuel Hahn

sent via Facebook on 3/29/2014

yeah. i don’t think it’s gonna be a failure
I just think we need to adjust a few things with our direction
at the end of the day, if people show up and hack cool projects, that would be a success
a lot of our budget is going towards *luxury* features like amazing food etc
but we gotta be super scrappy
the greatest thing right now is that we have a space confirmed

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 3/29/2014

lol i agree with you entirely
but i want to present a third option
we can give ourselves a deadline to figure out the large-scale stuff and if it doesn’t come together postpone the event till november or something. the brand is up, people are already excited, and we can find some nice meme&copy way of saying that logistical reasons forced us to postpone
which would allow us to find bigger sponsors, book better space, and host the big hackathon we want to
i’m not opposed to lean by the way! it’s just something that i’ve been thinking

Emanuel Hahn

sent via Facebook on 3/29/2014

haha yeah ! i know, your idea is very interesting
what about we throw a smaller scale event. (100 ppl) - and use it as a case study
okay. so say we push the hackathon back to november or whatever.
so people would just expect it to happen in november, so they won’t be too disappointed.
in the meantime, we’ll do a smaller “closed-door” type hackathon
with the 100 attendees
and we take our learnings from that and apply it in november
use the budget we have and experiment

Sam Hutch

sent via Facebook on 3/29/2014

I honestly think it makes more sense to postpone a huge event until the fall. It’s such a time crunch and if you want to do it the right way, you need more time to really plan it out.
yeah, a smaller test pilot makes more sense. but how are the 100 people that would come being picked?
what’s the current budget? and are the companies that sponsored interested in sponsoring a smaller event?

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 3/29/2014

i would suggest that the decision to postpone or not should be made no later than this friday to give ourselves time to reassess, come up with new dates, new deadlines and a find a sexy way to let our attendees and sponsors know
i have a feeling once the others see this we’ll all arrive at the decision rather quickly
but i find myself pretty in line with what the three of us have discussed

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 3/29/2014

I pretty much agree with everything. People have been messaging us asking us to confirm their registration because they need to make travel plans now. So if we decide to postpone it or take on less people we need to make that decision pretty much now.

Steven Chan

sent via Facebook on 3/29/2014

I think postponing is probably the better idea - I don’t we have enough traction from sponsors to be ready in 3 weeks. A small hackathon sounds interesting but id rather use that 10k towards the actual big hackathon than having a smaller one.
One question for me is what are we trying to learn about from holding that small hackathon? And following that - can we learn by assisting with another hackathon where there’s no risk on our end?
We have a lot of hype around this hackathon and postponing will either build it or diminish it. Might be worthwhile to present a mini design challenge prior to the hackathon to engage the people who signed up already

A few hours later I wake up, read over the chat and post my thoughts.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

Ok so I’ve read through everything. I’ve also been putting a lot of thought into this the past couple of days and here are my thoughts:

1. I agree that we need to set a deadline, about this Friday as Dan was saying, to decide whether to continue with our attempt for 400 on April 18-20, or to tweak the event.

2. I don’t think that tweak should come in the form of postponing. We need to run a successful pilot. If we don’t, next time we’ll be faced with the same skepticism from sponsors. Running a successful hackathon will make everything easier next time, from sponsors, to judges, to participants. I think simply postponing might let a lot of people know that we’re not up for something like this and will diminish sponsor trust, while holding a smaller event means we deal with realities and will have our event no matter what.

3. I also don’t think 100 people is an option. Every week there are a few 200-people hackathons, to the point where 200 people hackathons aint nothin special. I think that should be the absolute minimum for us, especially considering we need both designers and developers — not 100 designers. We can probably pull off a lean 200-person hackathon with $20k.

4. We WILL need to let our sponsors know that the event is being halved, and we need too expect it not to be worth it for them anymore. Squarespace did not pay what they did for 200 people. So basically we may be creating a whole new set of problems with sponsors who back out.

5. I also think, and please don’t take this the wrong way, that instead of rushing to postpone or change the event, we should each be contacting 20 new companies on Monday and see if we CAN pull this off. Events like this take a lot of work, especially when shit doesn’t go your way. There are two options when faced with something like this. One of them is to hustle, and I think, at least until Friday, we should be doing that HARD. That means 20 new emails a day per person and see what sticks. If nothing does, then we face reality, but we’ll definitely be in a better place when we do.

Honestly putting together something like this is stressful (consider that I’ve been on this 24/7 including my vacation and when I’m with friends since the first day we first spoke about it), but it has its rewards.

Bottom line: I agree we have to face reality and change the event if something doesn’t change *very* soon, but I think we should all be hustling like crazy (20 new emails each a day every day) until then instead of just giving up.

The others take a while to mull it over and then respond.

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

so I’ve been thinking a lot about our conversation and Joel’s recent input
And the question comes down to what is more harmful to the brand
Because what we want is to organize something that’s the awesome, annual and unique
And since this is our first go around, the quality of the event will ultimately define a general first impression of the event
if it’s kickass, the brand will be kickass, and if it’s subpar, the brand will be viewed accordingly
So back to this question: what is more harmful? Postponing, or not meeting our standards? Both have pro’s and con’s.
Joel, I don’t think we should frame postponing as “giving up”. This isn’t a question of hustle or fail. It’s simply a question of how to do things right.
Now I suggested next Friday as a deadline and Joel that’s what you wanted
Rob you said Monday
How about a middle ground?

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

One thing that I think is worth considering is that to sponsors, postponing is better than lowering the audience. The former gives them more time, while the latter makes it less attractive to them. Yeah they both make us look bad as far as planning goes but postponing has some advantages there I think.

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

The damage that postponing poses can be more effectively controlled

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

I think we can easily pull it off by offering sponsors a good amount off on the next one — as pilot sponsors

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

But then we will need to find more money to compensate for the discount

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

not a discount here
a discount on the next one
perhaps november, and we start planning right after this one
we have 3/4 large companies that should be getting back to us early next week
I agree. I think we need to hustle hard until Friday, like I said.
And that means all of us

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

I think it needs to be sooner
And Joel I must insist that hustling doesn’t solve our problems
It does not insure that we can wrestle the auditorium out of the hands of those who already booked it

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

I agree that backup plans need to be made
but we need a big enough window to actually be able to pull this off
Friday isn’t late, Friday IS the balance.
Guys bear with me. Let’s have the deadline Friday. Let’s make an effort and try to actually pull it off. If by Friday we decide it can’t happen, let’s postpone.

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

Buddy I’m really concerned that we’re already late and Friday is more wishful thinking than anything. Even if we get the sponsors, what if the money can’t be processed until after the event? Who’s going to front the money necessary to pay for it NOW?
And what if we push forward and Ann can’t use her power to get the auditorium?
Sam and Emmanuel chime in pls

Ok, let’s say we get the money
but we can’t secure the auditorium for kickoff
then what?
how do we solve some of these other logistical problems
if we wait till friday we need other backup plans, which i’m happy to think about
but we need to know what those are
we still have no backup for kickoff

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

It doesn’t make sense to set a deadline mid-week when I’m expecting answers from a lot of companies this week.
I’ll try and square the auditorium with anne and see if we can find some other backups
wednesday - friday is not a big time frame for the PR of postponing, but it could be big for getting that last sponsor in
at this point we need a single co-host or two recruiting people
let’s reach out to the potential caterers too
Basically, hustle hard for 5 more days and see what we can come up with

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

If we wait until friday fine
but aside from the money we need an assured venue for kickoff
and some solid catering solutions
otherwise we’re risking putting on a shit show

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

Agree
all of the above by friday
but this doesn’t work if all of us don’t put 100% in
that means all of us
Emanuel, Cheryl, Steven, Eric, Rob, Sam, anyone else who still wants part in this, are you up for it? 100% in until Friday?

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

I’m in.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

Ok I’m going to sleep, got a flight in the morning. I’m pushing forward until Friday, at which point I’ll be ready to postpone if we haven’t gotten things in order. Let me know if you’re in or not tomorrow. Good night!

Steven Chan

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

Here’s my honest opinion: I think our best option is to postpone now regardless how many sponsors sign on or what other perks we get. Based on every event that I’ve created, from tech@nyu to 100+ people meetups, everything we have now seems to be the backbone for the hackathon. There are tons of logistical things that needs to be figured out -- volunteers, space, food, movers, swag, processing $, tshirts, etc. Given that we only have a little under three weeks and haven’t secured enough funding (in pocket) to even have a lean hackathon, I think the smartest thing to do is to postpone.
I know we have a big vision for this event and I want to help make that happen. I’m not saying that I’m not willing to hustle or put in the work but given my workload (school, 2 jobs, etc.), I don’t have enough time to dedicate to outreach and sponsorships. Not sure if anyone else is in this same boat but given our current manpower + resources, I think the risks of doing the hackathon in April is way bigger than if we postponed it while the rewards/outcomes are relatively the same. No matter how hard and fast we hustle, there are things out of our control (when we get $ for instance) and I just don’t think we’re positioned at the moment to throw a stellar hackathon.
If we postponed this, we would have a lot more time to get things together especially given that I’ll be done with school. If we do happen to postpone - I think we should continue to fundraise and secure space up until May/June and then start planning logistics/operations for the hackathon.
Now, if we do decide to move forward with April (whether tomorrow or Friday), I am still down to be a part of this. Given my schedule this upcoming week, I doubt I’ll have any time to dedicate to reaching out. I’m more than happy to help out with whatever after midterms + during the event.

Sam Hutch

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

Hey guys, I’m kind of on the same page as Steven. I’m not going to be able to help out this week. If you do end up having to postpone, let me know and I’ll be ready to jump right in for November. Good luck!

Cheryl Wu

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

Hey unfortunately this is the toughest time of the year for me for personal reasons out of my control. I will be able to cover catering quotes and food preparations, but I don’t think I can be 100% reliable or devoted. I also agree that we don’t have enough time, regardless of hustling. I think even if we worked on this full-time, started over, and had twice the number of people, the two months from first talks to April 18th isn’t/wasn’t enough of a runway for 400 people/48 hours/$80,000/space in NYC for a brand new event, just due to pure logistics. That said, the work that’s been done is incredible and I don’t want to give up. I’m not sure if a smaller event would be good or not, but I will help as much as I can with any decision we come to.

Robert Vinluan

sent via Facebook on 3/30/2014

Yeah I agree with cheryl. I’m in the same boat as steven with classes and work and I just think it wasn’t possible for me to devote as much time as I wanted to. Also I think the odds were stacked against us, especially with space, what with all the spaces being booked long before us. I don’t want to give up and I’m happy to keep trying, but as far as backup plans go postponing will give us a lot of room to throw a good event. My personal opinion is that given what we’ve accomplished in a month, we could probably throw the greatest hackathon ever with proper time, and I’d much rather put on a fantastic show in November than a mediocre one now.

4/1/2014

The next day, we postpone the event.

On 4/1 the chat ends. We have postponed the event. I spend the next few days reaching out to our current sponsors and explaining the situation to them.

At the end of the day, trying to put together a 400-person student hackathon focused on design — the first of its kind — in less than three months was an incredibly audacious attempt. None of us had any experience organizing something at this scale. We reached out to sponsors too late in the game, we started searching for a space too late, we didn’t know many of the things we know today.

I now believe postponing was the right call. Though we had managed to raise the budget to put together the hackathon (even with 400 people) the hackathon would have been below our standards and undeserving on the excitement towards it from students wishing to attend to mentors and sponsors wanting to be a part of it.

Now, not only do we have much more time to put together the event, but our starting point infinitely better than our previous one. We are connected with many sponsors who are committed to sponsors and a great deal that wanted to but had already closed their budget. We know much more about what we need to accomplish. We have lists of potential spaces and food vendors and print shops that we have relations with. We are well on our way to a truly incredible and unique hackathon.

Design & Hack is going to be amazing.

Emanuel Hahn

sent via Facebook on 3/24/2014

one day we’ll look back at this fb convo with pride

We Evolve Again

Design & Hack left me overwhelmed with the amount of enthusiasm from every direction. Not only were designers thrilled about the event, developers were just as excited. When we postponed the event, many developers got in touch asking us to give them updates the moment we have them.

The hackathon was meant to be an event organized the the Creative Code Club, but its mission ended up being larger that the organization’s. Creative Code Club was teaching designers how to code in order to affect design culture, make designers more autonomous, and, mainly, to facilitate better products being created. This last goal had us thinking, was teaching designers how to code enough? Weren’t we only serving half of our audience? Dealing with half of the issue? Sure, more good products would be created once designers had the autonomy to turn their ideas into reality, but most new applications are created by developers who have the skills to create the technology, but not to design it properly. If we wanted to truly affect the caliber of created technology, we would to widen our reach.

The zeitgeist of designers learning to code goes both ways. Following Apple’s successes, tech culture too is beginning to understand the merits of good design, and with it most student developers. Considering the excitement around Design & Hack, I felt that we could do more, and a vision for a new organizational structure formed.

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/27/2013

C3 just got rejected as a nonprofit due to the mission being too vague
maybe we should go back to thinking about the naming too
so a branch of this thing could be Code Clubs
another branch Design Clubs (down the line)
it gives us an opportunity to be outside the C3 box
we’re talking about better stuff and bridging
I’m not talking about opening design clubs right now
I’m talking about creating a framework within which it makes sense to do something like that down the line
if that’s what we want

Joel Califa

sent via Facebook on 3/28/2014

like rob said, we should start from the two points and move towards the bridge
design & hack can act as the organization’s annual thing that brings ALL of these clubs together (devs learning design and designers learning development) + whoever else wants to join in on the fun

The Parameters for this new name were almost the same as the previous one, with the exception of working both ways — in the context of teaching code within design schools and of teaching design within Computer Science programs.

At first, we searched for a name for our top-level organization. The idea was to start Design Clubs within schools with CS programs, for instance MIT Design Club, or Stanford Design Club. This way we could keep our current structure of Parsons Code Club and SVA Code Club. With unified branding, it would be obvious that these belonged to the same organization regardless of that organization’s name.

However, there were names that could do both — represent that top level organization as well as each individual club.

4/4/2014

We decide on our new name: Design & Code.

Design & Code is not a hard name to come up with. It had been on our potential name list since the beginning, but it had never been right up until that point. Parsons Design & Code didn’t roll off the tongue and wasn’t clearly a student organization. This time, though, the name suited our purposes perfectly.

Instead of phrasing it as Parsons Design & Code, we would phrase it as Design & Code at Parsons. To designers, it is clear that this is something for them, and something related to code. To developers, Design & Code at Rutgers will communicate that it is something for them, and something related to design. The top-level organization will be called Design & Code without an “at” and will clearly be related to each of the local chapters.

As with previous iterations, rebranding was not a simple task, but a long process. We had decided to rebrand C3 to a more thought out brand when it was still Creative Code Club, a process which started a few weeks before we decided to rename and change the scope of the organization. On 3/14, I add Rob and Pedro Almeida, a member of the club from SVA, to a Facebook chat and start brainstorming potential directions. It starts with the following concept for a computer-generated Creative Code Club logo that would always have 3 different kinds of cogs turning.

The chat becomes a sort of mood board for all of us (though we also start a Pinterest for the process). Once we change our name to Design & Code, I begin uploading ideas for directions by the handful, mostly without merit.

I try to play off of the ampersand. For me, it represents the union of Design and Code.

I finally get some headway when I begin to experiment with spirals.

The resulting shape is a quirky ampersand that grows on me quickly. I iterate on it and build a D and a C around it.

With every iteration I like the logo more, but when I test it on people the ampersand is not immediately noticeable and some parse the type as “design code” rather than “design and code.” The D and the C are not noticeable at all. I try to make the ampersand clearer but lose the pure forms I had grown to love.

I decide to scrap this direction and focus on new paths.

5/7/2014

Rob and I meet to jam on branding.

Several new directions are attempted. We are trying to show the union of two things — design and code. We try mixing, crashing, implosions, weaving, and keep coming back to the idea of a venn diagram.

This idea of a venn diagram with a circle and a diamond is not new. In the past, we shied away from it because it was always the first thing we tried. A circle representing design and creativity, and a diamond representing code and technology. We always felt that it was too easy, too cliche. This time, though, we let ourselves treat it as a legitimate option and quickly grew to love it — not as a logo in itself but as a skeleton for an extended brand based on circles and squares overlapping. We are still working on this extended brand, but for now, this is our logo.

We are Design & Code.

A few days later, Dan informs us that he will not have time to remain on the board.

Daniel Bogre Udell

sent via Facebook on 5/11/2014

Hey guys!

So first thing’s first. Sorry I’ve been AWOL the past couple weeks. (Thesis woes, you know..) Joel, I know you need the documents we submitted for filing, and they’re in a “Documents” folder in the “Design and Code” folder. Let me know if there’s any confusion. In any case, this is my last week of the semester, so I’ll soon be coming up for air, but I’ve doing some some serious thinking over the past week and have come to the conclusion that it’s just not the right time for me to serve on the board for Design and Code. I’ve definitely got two semesters left, and if I pursue a PhD afterwards, which I’d very much like to do, there’s no avoiding the fact that school is going to remain central to my life for a while. Considering that I’ve already got Wikitongues to build up, and will need to continue working on the side, I see no way for me to dedicating a fair amount of time to this, and have no interest in being a dead weight — it’s not fair to you, and will only make my other projects suffer. I’m sorry to be bringing this up so late in the game, but I’ve only been having doubts recently, and I wanted to thoroughly evaluate my priorities to make sure I was confident in my decision, and I can say for sure that I am.

All that being said, I’m in no way disappearing, and would like you to think of me as a dedicated volunteer for this organization, who would very much like to see it succeed. Since I’ll be here another year, I can continue to lead Parsons Code Club with Mallory, Laurie and Jayne, and will be able to focus my energy on designing the curriculum we’ve been talking about, but which I haven’t been able to do because we’ve been stretched thin across trying to start this and get Design and Hack moving. And, with regards to Design and Hack, I will still be at Parsons, so I can be our liaison for organizing facilities and resources through the New School.

Finally, I know that my taking a step back prevents you from starting a non-profit, because you need a third member for the board, and I’m happy to help you find a replacement whom you trust. I can also (once the semester is over) explain the legal steps to you since I’ve been the one doing the research.

I regret having come to this conclusion so late in the game, but I think it’s best that I be clear sooner rather than later.

Lots of love

Lessons Learned

In retrospect, reading over this, things that felt like eternity actually spanned less than 2 weeks. It is interesting how time morphs in high stress situations. I’ve learned a lot from this process. Following are a few lessons that’ll stay with me.

Now

We now have our top level organization, a branch at Parsons, a branch at SVA and Design & Hack scheduled for early next semester. There’s a lot of work ahead of us to make sure this all happens.

We need to:

Right now, we look like this:

Design & Code Leadership

Joel Califa

President

Robert Vinluan

Board Member

Parsons Branch

Daniel Udell

Leader

Jayne Lee

Leader

Laurie Waxman

Leader

SVA Branch

Sam Wander

Leader

Luke Stern

Leader

Design & Hack Organizers

Joel Califa

Director

Robert Vinluan

Organizer

Daniel Udell

Organizer

Emanuel Hahn

Organizer

Cheryl Wu

Organizer

Sam Hutch

Organizer

Next year, the sky’s the limit. We’re ready.

For updates on Design & Code, follow us on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Joel Califa leads Product Design at DigitalOcean.
Beyond design, his passion in life is making awesome new friends.
If you enjoyed this, hit him up on Twitter or via email!

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