Last weekend I decided to try Random Hacks of Kindness Toronto and it was a great experience and makes me appreciate the skills and capabilities of all those coders and developers out there. Makes me wish I could do some development. I am more of an ideas kind of guy and play in the writer’s room versus the coding world. One Saturday when we had to choose between projects I was debating between three of them.
One project was for a depression app that would help give more data for doctors when diagnosing and treatment. Another was for ACORN that focused on complaints based on repairs and such, and the one I ended up choosing was called One Plant. One Plant Per Class as it is known brings students closer to nature and shows how a plant in the classroom can make a difference in the very air students breathe every day. Nicholas had a great energy and it was great to meet someone so driven while being so young. Kind of makes me feel like I need to step up my game and stop being afraid to jump into what I want to do.
With One Plant Nicholas wanted to create an app for students to watch their plants in the classroom with their smart phone. I thought that you could take it a step further and create a “foursquare for plants” app that could act as a plant journal where people could share photos and tips on taking care of their indoor plants (and hopefully outdoor ones as well). I thought that the premise had the potential to reach outside just plants in classrooms or in offices but for those growing plants anywhere.
We had a great team with folks from Ryerson’s DMZ and a few others working on the development side of things while I worked out some gamification elements and tried to enlarge the scope of the app to include anyone who had an indoor plant. At first we wanted to do an iOS app but I don’t think we had the coders we needed so it ended up being an HTML5 based one that we ended up demoing.
You can check out what the devs coded at http://m.oneplantperclass.org/ (not sure how long it will be up for). The mobile site has Facebook login integrated and should (in theory) allow for check-ins. We couldn’t do a picture upload when you checked into your plant from an iOS device because the Safari browser does not have access to the file system.
So if we were moving forward we would have to code for iOS separately to get all the functionality we would want the app to have baked in. I learned a bit about UI and may try to do some mockups of my own sometime soon after seeing some of the other guys do it. Another guy was looking up school systems throughout the country while one of the guys from DMZ created the lean canvas for the basic business model of how it would work in practice.
After 2 days of coding and working our team One Plant ended up in second to another great project on using mHealth to Reduce Pregnancy Related Deaths in Developing Countries. With the third place being Water Voices which was a project meant to give aboriginal peoples in Canada a voice in improving their access to water and sanitation.
The difference for the judges in my opinion was the projects that already had a foundation to build on. The ultrasound project was going to go ahead at some point and their time at RHOK was able to give them the development expertise they can use to push them over the edge when they go fo funding in a few weeks time. Just like Nicholas who had done a lot of work prior to RHOK, in a way you could say that he had done his minimum viable product already by getting 8 schools on board before the event. The passion in
Random Hacks of Kindness didn’t just involve local projects but you could have worked on a NASA one that had to do with mapping, Nike whose project focused on sustainable materials and several others. What I really liked is that I think we all felt we were able to use our skills to help out these groups even if in just a small way. It was a chance to meet developers, business people, and just learn from who they are and what they do.
It makes you realize that if these people can do it, why can’t the rest of us. Maybe it is to start a great organization, or get the job, or start that awesome company, or if you are me now take a leap of faith into an unknown.
Here is Nicholas giving an update on where we were at, and funny enough I was the dude in the background wearing the orange hat LOL.
Later on I was asked to do a short video on RHoKTO (thank god it is so dark), here it is for better or worse, oh well.
I had a blast and would recommend that anyone be it coders or whoever take part next time a RHOK comes calling. Congrats to everyone involved, we were all winners, and I wanted to say great job to all the organizers and sponsors of the event. Loved working out of the Centre for Social Innovation on Bathurst, the space has such a great character that fit the vibe of RHOK to a “T”.