#BCTech: 2nd BC Tech Summit

Tuesday marked the first day of the second #BCTech Summit. This year the event was considerably bigger and better than last year. However, last year’s summit was amazing. Bar raised. It is clear that the technology sector is big in British Columbia. And, the summit highlights this with the Research Runway, Trade show, Start Up Alley, Tech Talks, and more at the summit. bctech one

Tuesday’s opening plenary included lots of different speakers. BC’s Premier Christy Clark also spoke and offered different data regarding the tech sector. Her speech was peppered with the usual political moments, but the most telling moments were the ones that she made reference to other countries. The other countries and the policies were really about the United States or that is my perception. BC and Canada will look outward and embrace diversity. This perhaps is a chin wag to the US with the recent travel bans and overall culture of fear.

bctech three

My political perception aside, the first day was fabulous and I look forward to day two at the #BCTech Summit.

Girls Learning Code: Scratching at the Surface 

This last weekend I volunteered at one of the local Ladies Learning Code events. I helped by doing social media for the Girls Learning Code event at St. Margaret’s, an all girls school in Victoria, BC. The “code” for the day was learning Scratch, and the girls had fun designing games. The school had donated space including the use of their labs, a large area for the girls to eat their lunches, and then the presentation of the games. We ended up using a computer lab at the Junior School and another lab next door at the Senior School campus. Thank you to the school! 

The day was fun and the girls demonsrated their wicked skills with Scratch. Some of the girls were familiar with Scratch, and others were new to it. Regardless, they had fun. The labs were warm with the hum of the computers and the din of conversation among the girls and the mentors roving around to assist. The mentors donated the bulk of their day to help. And, I want to speak to the mentors. 

The vast bulk of the mentors were women, and virtually all of them shared one message. They wished that Girls Learning Code existed when they were young, and that we need more women in the tech industry. One mentor noted that she has never worked on a project team with another woman. And, another mentor noted that in some of her Computer Science courses she is the only woman or one of three in a class of 50. Yeah, re-read those sentences. It’s 2015. We still have work to do. 

A few of the mentors were men and they echoed the comment. “We need more women and girls coding.” The mentors were great and coached the girls through the day. But, I really hope that the girls were left with the messages that it’s cool to like Math, Games, Computers, and Science. The mentors were introduced to the parents, and again the mentors shared their stories. I am sure that some of the girls and parents left the event with a sense of optimism. I hope to see these girls at more of the Girls Learning Code events. 

I used #llcyyj on Instagram, Vine, and Periscope. The Twitter handle is @llcvictoria. 


Getting Involved in Your Community

This post is both for students and non-students. More then five years ago, I resolved (without it being a New Year’s Resolution) to get more involved in my community more so. I am already engaged on campus and within some networks in Political Science and Higher Education. What I wanted to do was expand these networks and friendships off campus in the city where I reside.  To this end, I started to attend more community events and actively networked more off campus.

It is too easy to get lazy and keep on going to the same old haunts and seeing the same people (some wonderful). At first I must admit, it was a little strange. Would I meet people? Would it be fun? Yes, to answer both questions. I have networked, relaxed, and socialized and in the process have met many people. Some of the connections have proved fruitful for former students—yes, I have helped students get internships or jobs. But, it has also been great for me. I feel like I was getting comfortable and not exploring the city and making Victoria my home.

Specific to students, getting involved on campus and networking is not only fun, but can also help you with your future career goals. And, you will meet your peers who are going through the same things that you are. You might even make some life-long friendships. As an undergraduate advisor, I want students to feel like they are part of the campus community. Why? Students are apt to be more successful and happier during their studies. Seriously. Check out the clubs and course unions. And, for community members–come onto campus and network with faculty, staff, and students.

I include a photo below of the wonderful Hudson Mack, who invited me to attend his class at Royal Roads. Thank you to Hudson and his great students! Hudson took the photo.

Janni and Hudson

Election Hangover

Here we are a few days post BC Election and I am suffering from an election hangover. This is pretty normal for a political junkie or in my case, a political scientist, who enjoys following elections. Now, I have no issue sharing that the election results were not surprising. I suspected that we’d see the economy and business as usual providing the impetus for votes.  I anticipated strategic, economic voting and suspected we’d see another BC Liberals majority government. This is not endorsing the results.

Let me be clear: I am not happy with the results. Nope. And, for the love of my friend’s dog, please don’t make that giant leap of logic that this is hate speech. (Oh, yes, my person under the bridge loves to give me so much attention–er–get a life). What can we do during these next four years? Wake up. Wake the hell up. This is also making me think about that I might actually need to work on the GOTV campaign, too. I talk about the importance of voting and I do vote federally in the US, but maybe I need to seriously entertain doing more on the island.

trin-045.jpgDon’t be a robot (a cyclon)–get involved!



Parenting, Community Building, and Email

I never thought I’d post about something as mundane as trying to get birthday invites to my elementary aged daughter’s friends. Previously she was enrolled at a private school and not only did we have an online family directory, but we also had class representatives who collated a parents’ email, address, and phone list. This made birthday or play date invites extremely easy. This also allowed for socializing among the families–yes, for community building and did so in a way that many of us appreciated. We could email and connect or choose to call and coordinate.

I have booked my daughter’s birthday party and given that she’s two months into a new public school I thought that I should find out what the protocol is for birthday invites. Actually, I walked into the office assuming that I would get the contact information for the classroom parents or an email for the class representative. Well, I could not even get the teacher’s email. Nope. This violates privacy laws in the province, allegedly. No information about the child can be disseminated via email. Whether or not this is true is not my bone of contention. The fact that in 2013 I could not get the work email for my child’s teacher was absolutely ridiculous. I was politely told that my daughter can distribute the invites at lunch or recess. This is a great exercise for kids to see who is invited and not invited. Big sigh. The e-vites allows for no paper waste.

The staff suggested that I speak with the teacher to see what she prefers. So, off we trundled down the hall. I spoke with the teacher and she would not give her email. She asked if I could just come in. I explained that I am always near a device, so that email is convenient. I received another polite smile and was told that she’s happy to meet with me prior to school. I’ll have to be happy with that. Apparently, she does not check her email often–and that’s fine. But, I’m still shocked. I inquired about the birthday invites and was again informed that my daughter will need to hand them out during recess or lunch.

I might sound like one of those self-entitled parents who demands that the system works her way, but I’m not sure if that is the case here. My concern is three-fold: ease of communication, access to information (emails) to set up play dates or arrange a pick up swap, and understanding that it’s 2013 and technology is pervasive. So, slap my rear and call me Betsy, because I was shocked with my findings today. Seriously, I have to go old school and have my kiddo pass out invites. This also means that I have to meet the other parents so that we can actually become part of this new community. I have some “let’s arrange a play date” note cards that I can finally use. The good news is that I’m going to be more outgoing at drop off and pick up to meet other parents. I’ll roll with it.

My second to last concern is that the kiddo is not inviting the entire class, so the chances are that some kid will have her or his feelings hurt. We have a set limit for the party and we are inviting a mix of kids from the old school and new school. Thankfully, I can use an e-vite for the kids from the old school. Regarding the hurt feelings, well that’s part of growing up–I know. I will have a chat with the kiddo about how to do this as discreetly as possible. And, my last concern, I’m still troubled by the fact that the nuclear codes were not made available to me as a parent– I don’t have the teacher’s email address. An email address is something so basic in my world as an educator. But, then again, maybe the teacher is drawing boundaries and really prefers only face to face interaction. At this point in time, I’m expressing my surprise via the blog post, but I’m not about to write the school board. This is not official complaint worthy. Thoughts?

Adding–of course–I googled the teacher. Her email was not found and she is off the grid. Boundaries, time management or teaching philosophy…

playdate image

Fri Fun Fact: #YYJ

While I’m in the US, I’ve thinking of Victoria ( #YYJ ) and all the things that I’ve done during the last seven years. This Friday’s post is about Victoria. Friday Fun Facts about Victoria, BC.

1. You cannot complain about a lack of things to do in Victoria. There is a vibrant arts community. In early July, I saw Atomic Vaudeville’s “Ride the Cyclone” and a few days later attended a flamenco production, “Recuerdos” at the Royal Theatre.

2. Almost year round, Victoria hosts all sorts of music and arts festivals. Jazz Fest and Ska Fest both took place in July, as well. Then, there is Fringe Festival and Rifflandia. And, these are only a mere four that I’m noting in this quick Friday Fun Facts.

3. Victoria is definitely one of the most family friendly cities that I have ever lived in. The rec centres offer activities and care for kids of all ages. Sure, child minding hours are limited, but at least there are some. And, yes, I do realized (and remember) how hard it is to get a daycare spot. But, looking at the glass half full for this post.

4. Victoria has some of the healthiest people in Canada. We ride our bikes, walk, and engage in other exercise. You are bound to make friends if you get out and about!

5. Victoria is home to a world-class university, that is right—University of Victoria. OK. I’m biased as UVIC is my employer, but it’s no exaggeration to say that it is a well-respected university.

6. Victoria is the provincial capital city and related to this—we are a political community. There are lots of people engaged in all sorts of political activity. You can find great commentary on CFAX or CBC Radio. Then, the local TV stations also offer great local coverage—see /A\News and CHEK. Likewise, we have a great local paper, the Times Colonist where you can keep abreast of all the news in the greater Victoria region. The legacy media here is strong.

7. And, for my last point about Victoria…we are also one of the most connected social media cities in the country. Our meet ups/tweet ups are the most organized and well attended bar none. We’ve had two successful Social Media Camps (thanks to the great organization of local entrepreneurs Paul Holmes and Chris Burdge). If you missed the last one here is the URL: http://socialmediacamp.ca/. Related to my last point, the social media scene in Victoria is active.

In sum, if you’re bored in Victoria, you are not getting out to events. Pore through the paper or websites and you’ll find lots to do.