Pooling resources this summer: CityCamp NC

Today was Day 1 of CityCampNC—a two day event for open government advocates and tech-minded folks to talk about how to get more out of the institution we’ve built around elected officials, policies, and legislation. There’s so much to be done in and around our communities and CityCamp is a way to get those conversations started among people who have varied skills, some with government knowledge and some with not much. You’d be surprised how much can get worked out, teased out, and done when these people come together… and honestly, when they come together to give a damn.

Because, isn’t that the real take-away? To meet like-minded folks and walk away feeling empowered to go out and do more, with more understanding and knowledge than you had yesterday?

More and more citizens are changing and shaping our government for the better. All of this is our answer to the mess we’ve seen government make and our frustration with their process. Three cheers!

The take-away is also $3000 for the winning idea/team, plus a consulting session with Jason Caplain at Bull City Venture Partners. Two more prizes will be given out this year: $1000 and $500 respectively to a second and third team. The ideas were pitched this morning and these 20 were pulled out into sessions that lasted the afternoon. Tomorrow (the second day) will be “a build day” where the now established teams begin making headway on their projects (conference attendees choose the sessions/ideas that interest them most, participate in talks about what the project around the idea will be, and then decide which team(s) to officially join for the second day).

The event is being held in Raleigh at The Hunt Library on NCSU’s Centennial Campus—which is fantastic! Truly innovative, state of the art, and just smoooooooth.

Note: I participated in all of the more content-focused sessions, held in the “fishbowl” conference room! You can see the list here. Beyond the main topics we were there to discuss, there was a lot of chatter around public transit/walking and Raleigh as a destination city for people looking for a better quality of life. It made me smile. A lot. Ranking highly for a place to live was the desire for it to be: technology driven + neighbor friendly + affordable. Raleigh = check!

P.S. Thanks for the encouragement and awesome conversation to all the peeps I met today! #inspring #citycampnc

Feet on the street: 3 reviews

Last week, I posted about walking as a means of getting around. Inspired, I spent the long weekend doing a lot of it.

Hillsborough Street — is fairly deserted during the summer while most students are taking a break from classes (campus is just across the street). But, fantastic summer spots, like Chili Bomba, East Village, and Sadlacks are open and frequented by residents of the nearby neighborhoods year-round. I for one am more keen on visiting Hillsborough Street when there are less students and more sunshine. Chili Bomba is my favorite right now (used to be El Rodeo): they make killer Mexican corn, excellent guacamole, and delicious Mojitos!

The Rose Garden — is at full bloom right now! Sometime each year between Mother’s Day and the first frost (November?), row after row of peach, red, pale pink (and on and on) roses cover the grounds and trellises of this neighborhood garden: located between Hillsborough Street and Wade Avenue, at Pogue Street. Weddings are lovely here (book a special event) and the Raleigh Little Theatre puts on shows and hosts events throughout the year. Casual walkers and picnic-ers welcome!

NC Art Museum Park  — The Greenway just gets better and better, as does our NC Art Museum: located off Blue Ridge Road, not far off Wade Avenue. Trails weave around the museum grounds, leading visitors on easy hikes through the woods and fields, and it connects with the Greenway at two different spots. Summertime at the NCAM is special: movies are shown outdoors on a gigantic screen (bring a blanket and some snacks, wine to order), concerts are held at the most perfectly-sized venue in town, and the Iris restaurant is enchanting and delicious.

Get your feet on the street this summer!

P.S. Check out this walking tour of downtown from The Raleigh Connoisseur.

Gardening inspiration

Quotes are always great. Some of the best ones can be found on a plaque outside an important building downtown or even a dinner menu. Particularly, the ones inside a leisure read, like say a book on starting a community garden  Continue reading “Gardening inspiration”

Get Around: Walking

As part of my Get Around series, I feel it’s time to talk about walking. (See posts on the bus and biking.)

Matt Tomasulo of Raleigh created Walk Your City: signage that informs people how it is to walk to nearby destinations. Anyone can help their city “get more feet on the street”… the mobile app is coming soon and you can follow news on Twitter @WalkYourCity.

Continue reading “Get Around: Walking”

Girl Rising review

Last night I saw the wonderful film, Girl Rising (at the Carolina Theater in Durham). It’s a hybrid—part documentary, part recreated stories—that shares the real-life experiences of nine girls from various parts of the world, many the poorest of the poor, who are fighting for their right to an education. Digging in their heels and voicing their human right to be more than a slave, a disregarded life, an afterthought. Just for being born a girl.

Can you imagine?

You may think the poorest girls around the world account for a small percentage of our global human community, but you’d be wrong. Just think, at Google’s I/O (developer) conference yesterday, on a map of the world the countries where less than 10% of the population has been “touched” by Android were highlighted—it was most countries. Put that in context with these facts:

+ there are roughly 7 billion people on Earth
+ there have been 900 million Android activations worldwide (mainly: North America, Europe, and Australia)
+ Google says they have 4.5 million people still to reach

The point is most of the world is not like us. Most women are born into families and societies that do not value them. The aim of Girl Rising and the 10×10 campaign is to change that. Throughout the film they point out amazing statistics that come down to one big idea: Countries that recognize the untapped potential of their female populations, and invest in them through proper education, boost their economy.

And, a flourishing economy, where men and women are able to contribute to society in a meaningful way and exploratory way, typically means all kinds of things (rights, choices, freedoms, jobs) are going more right than they are wrong.

Azmera Girl Rising

By educating women, countries and societies are able to truly and easily solve issues relating to disease and violence. By educating women we allow the natural flow of life to happen and wrongs to be made right again.

We’re all responsible for that. 

See the film, join the 10×10 campaign, or donate $5.

P.S. Remember Malala? The brave Pakistani girl who called education the light that brightens up girls’ lives and was then shot in the head by the Taliban? She’s recovering now and going back to school soon, but horrible violence is escalating across Pakistan (report from Gordon Brown, former UK prime minister).

Breakfast: Morning Times

Most mornings lately I’ve made myself 3 scrambled eggs. I like them a little moist, with salt and pepper (and sometimes a dash of cayenne, spinach, or feta). But made simply, quickly, and coupled with a cup of Earl Grey or tall glass of water.

If you’re downtown, a great place to get the simplicity of a homemade breakfast is at Morning Times. They have a new menu! It’s chock full of deliciousness.

Breakfast has a whole side of the menu dedicated to it—lunch is on the other side (served from 11:30am – 7pm). Some breakfast items are served until 11:30am, but the rest are available all day! Get your fill of grits, oatmeal, buttermilk biscuits (+gravy), breakfast burritos, sandos, and wraps OR have the Omelet of the Day, a Waffle Sandwich, or Smoked NC Trout.

Seating: Out front there are a few two-person tables and inside near the entrance is a new bar that faces the street. Upstairs is a large open room with lots of natural light, several tables, mostly 4 tops, and a couple of lounge chairs. Each week a new artist showcases their work; flyers with more information can be found on the community table by the stairs.

Each First Friday, when the weather is nice, the Morning Times Market is held on Hargett Street, between Wilmington and Fayetteville Streets. Local handmakers and artists set up to sell their goods, while people hang out, talk, and hoolahoop.

Small local biz Mondays: Vigor + Vim

The best mornings start out with a big, full body stretch. And preferably while still under the warmth of the covers. You know the kind: comforting, relaxing, and invigorating. Much like a massage but for an instant instead of an hour. So, when I found out about Vigor + Vim, I was excited to see stretching and massage offered, plus something called: Spring Clean. A holistic approach towards servicing the body makes me feel like the results have more potential to treat, soothe, and last.

It was while practicing at Indigo Hot Yoga (Oberlin Court) that I met Chris, a talented and charismatic instructor, and now the master behind Vigor + Vim.

Therapeutic Massage (60, 75, and 90 minute options)


Gentle Yoga (60 minute session)


Spring Clean: This is an opportunity to work out a daily plan with Chris to service your body. You will develop a morning routine that invigorates and establishes your day; form a personalized yoga series to use at work or home; explore mindful awareness of your patterns to shed the outdated ones; and cultivate the authentic qualities that best serve you. Once per week for 4 weeks (consecutively) you will see Chris to work on all of your tight spots, integrating your individual plan into each session.


Special: For all who work in the service industry (servers, baristas, bartenders, and anyone who derives over 50% of their income through tips), during the month of May, book up to two, 60 minute sessions for only $45.

It all sounds amazing! Visit the studio at 620 W. Lane Street, call for an appointment, or book online.

P.S. Cheryl at Epona & Oak is one of my favorite massage therapists in town. Do you regularly schedule massages? Or things like, acupuncture, alignment bodywork, or facials?

For a Happy Mother’s Day

There are a few ways to ensure your Mom has a great Mother’s Day this year. The key is make her feel special. And it’s not elusive and it may seem.

If you’re able to get out and about, consider taking her downtown depending on her favorites things to eat, style, and where you may want to venture next.

Dame RESTAURANT recommendations:  Continue reading “For a Happy Mother’s Day”

CityCampNC part of a nationwide movement towards open government

There is a movement happening in cities around the world. Citizens are finding ways to participate in their local government through technology. They are making positive changes that are trickling down to the way residents in Raleigh and the Triangle, and cities across the country, live their everyday lives. But, this movement has also come from the top: President Obama and the First Lady have been actively supporting open education, open data, and more. Ultimately, a more open government.

Jason Hibbets lives in Raleigh where he is a project manager at Red Hat and takes the lead on Opensource.com; this is just one of the many hats he wears. He also helps organize CityCampNC, a two-day event in its third year and expanding beyond Raleigh to include all of North Carolina. Participants learn about open government projects, organize and work on some of their own, and come away with a greater understanding why it’s important to represent yourself, and often your neighborhood or generation, in your local government. You don’t have to be an aspiring politician, or well-connected, or already have a project you are working on. Just bring yourself and your passion, and a job only you could do will present itself.

It’s $10 for the two-day pass (+ a T-shirt) or $5 for students and government officials. SIGN UP here. Last year, I was able to attend Day 1 and it was great!

Also, Jason has written a book, The foundation for an open source city, that chronicles his experience on the front lines of the open government movement. He tells us how positive change is happening is through open source programs, platforms, and philosophies. If you are interested in getting one of the $20, $35, $60, or $120 perks from his IndieGoGo campaign order today! Available through May 14, 2013.

To order, you can use PayPal—send payment to: [email protected]—then let him know which option you want to get before the public has access!

The Foundation for an Open Source City

The book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Get to know your small, local business way better

Tonia Zampieri wanted to know how she could turn the tide for small business USA where she says it’s painfully evident nothing great exists in online marketing to help them fight the threat of another national chain restaurant, company, or big box store moving in and putting their small local business out of business.  

After doing market research she found most options where (for small businesses) too expensive, annoying, and not truly social (to connect customers to services).

Tonia started Finder411, a social platform where businesses and consumers can get to know each other better, all based on better information and better connections.

She is also a winner of my 3 free blog posts contest!

Continue reading “Get to know your small, local business way better”