The Phoenix Network:
 
 
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
 

Creative loafing

Where to get your geek on
By MARION DAVIS  |  September 3, 2009

creative-loafing-prov-main
Photo: Frank Mullin
IN THE NETWORK Stephanie Gershon is part of Pecha Kucha Providence.

Perhaps you've heard that Providence has quite a creative community — a bit techie, very artistic, and at times pretty out there. Or maybe you're just looking for kindred spirits, or some connections beyond your college campus. The city, you've heard, has plenty to offer, but how to find it?

There are a few sure bets: AS220, the downtown arts space, for instance, and Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design, both of which welcome non-students and host scores of events each month (Brown, especially). But to really tap into the community, you'll want to venture a bit farther.


GEEK POWER

If computers are your passion — or digital design, Web-based applications, software — the Providence Geeks (providencegeeks.org) are a must on your social calendar. Founded in 2006 by local techies looking to bring people together and promote collaboration, this informal group meets at AS220 (as220.org) every third Wednesday of the month.

There's no official membership, though about 900 people are on the mailing list. Each month, a local tech company or project gives a brief presentation, but the 5:30 pm "dinners," which tend to attract more than 100 tech professionals, students and people interested in technology, are mostly about casual networking.

Because the Geeks' focus is relatively narrow, they've inspired spin-offs such as the hacker group DC401 (dc401.org) and a biweekly Tuesday-morning entrepreneur meet-up. But as the first and the biggest techie group in town, the Geeks are still the heart of the local tech community and a great resource to connect into that world. So if this is your scene, stop in for a taco and a beer.


INVENTOR HEAVEN, HIGH-TECH EDITION

But maybe you're a bit more hands-on than just writing code. Maybe you like to build things — cool high-tech gadgets with their guts on full display, so fellow tinkerers can see what you did and maybe improve on it. The Geeks, yeah, they'll appreciate you. But the AS220 Labs (as220.org/labs), an outpost of the MIT Fabrication Technology Laboratory ("Fab Lab") — that's the place to be.

A self-described "teaching space, workspace and community junk pile for supporting open hardware and software projects," the lab offers an array of high-end tools and workshops for anyone who wants to learn to use them. Plenty of local creative types like to play there, too, so it's a good place to make new connections.

If you're a bit shy, or just want an extra-easy way into this scene, an upcoming festival, Maker Faire Rhode Island (makerfaireri.com), offers lots of opportunities. Affiliated with MAKE magazine, but organized by local techies and inventors, the event includes four days of hands-on workshops at Slater Mill in Pawtucket, September 14 to 17, plus a meet-up at the Wolcott Eco Office in Providence on September 18 and a showcase at Water Fire on September 19.


WHERE DESIGNERS MEET UP

With a top-notch industrial design program right at RISD, and a solid old- and new-economy manufacturing presence in the region even today, it's no surprise that Rhode Island has a good share of industrial designers — whether they're employed creating consumer products, or trying to change the world.

1  |  2  |  3  |   next >
Related: Firehouse 13 gets a facelift, Limits of non-traditional leadership, Brave new RISD, More more >
  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Visual Arts, Brown University, A Better World By Design,  More more >
| More


ARTICLES BY MARION DAVIS
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   SAVOR THESE URBAN (AND SUBURBAN) OASES  |  September 27, 2011
    It's not a huge state, but Rhode Island, you may be realizing, is abuzz with activity. There's music, poetry, theater, gallery shows, social gatherings, and all sorts of events at the colleges.
  •   REWRITING THE HISTORY OF CAPITALISM  |  March 30, 2011
    Brown University president Ruth Simmons has made it hard to ignore the school's ties to slavery — and by extension, the ties of well-known Providence families.
  •   GREENING THE KNOWLEDGE DISTRICT  |  March 09, 2011
    Christopher Bull is on the engineering faculty at Brown University, but what he teaches is a vision. “We all bear some responsibility in the direction the world goes,” he says, “and we need to accept that responsibility and act on it.”
  •   CATAPULTER WANTS YOU TO TRAVEL SMARTER  |  February 23, 2011
    You’re headed to New York and you need to keep the trip as cheap as possible, but also want WiFi, so you can work. Or perhaps you’re due in Boston’s Back Bay area, ASAP, and you need the ride to be quick and direct, even if it costs a little extra.
  •   AT RISD: 2X4S, TAPE, AND 'CO-HABITATION'  |  February 09, 2011
    In photographs, it looks like a giant spider web. But up close, it's shiny and transparent under the golden light. It's big enough for a person to climb into and crawl through — or you can poke your head in from a hole underneath or on the sides.

 See all articles by: MARION DAVIS



  |  Sign In  |  Register
 
thePhoenix.com:
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
TODAY'S FEATURED ADVERTISERS
Copyright © 2014 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group