Refresh Savannah: Facebook Housekeeping

Three months in a row? Inconceivable! We also have a new location this month, which is exciting!

This month, we’re talking about Facebook with Jillian Stafford, who is awesome. Here’s her description:

Facebook’s mission is all about connecting people, but sometimes that goes too far. Jillian Stafford will teach you how to clean up your Facebook page, and maintain it for personal and career purposes. Learn how to control what people can and cannot see, control what type of content is shared on your page, and how to keep your Facebook experience painless and free from embarrassment.
Jillian Stafford is an award winning, nationally recognized social media manager. She handles accounts for businesses of all sizes based mostly in Savannah, Georgia. Some of her most notable brands include Parker’s Convenience Stores, Jalapenos Mexican Grill, and The Creative Coast. Jillian specializes in cultivating, maintaining and growing positive relationships between brands and their customers through thoughtful interaction and active listening.

Like I said, we’re at a new location this month: Gauge Interactive! We’re also going to try out nvite to handle RSVPs (which we’ve never done before either).

So, RSVP here (it’s still free), and we’ll see you there!


  • What: Refresh Savannah
  • When: 3/10/2015 @ 6PM (we’re moving it up a week because we don’t want to compete with St. Patrick’s Day)
  • Where: Gauge Interactive: 2413 Bull St. About parking from Mark: “There is a parking lot behind our building which is accessible from DeSoto Ave, at this time of day there will be room for people. If people choose to park in the back, it is easiest if they walk all the way around the building to the front door. There is rear entrance, but its easy to miss and hard to describe.”

February’s Refresh: Context for People of Color by Juwan Platt

We’ve got a good one this month! Juwan Platt, one of my favorite people, is going to give us a preview of the talk he’s giving at AlterConf. Here’s the description:

Why is there such a lack of interest in STEM related fields in regards to people of color? As Juwan Platt says, they lack the contextual knowledge of why this stuff matters — and we as a community must inform them. A community guy himself, Juwan Platt encourages kids of color to take control of their future and dive into STEM related fields.

I expect a lively discussion around this topic, so come prepared to participate!

I hope to see you there!

Refresh April: Ask Not What Your City Can Do For You: Open Gov/Open Data in Savannah

We’re back! This month, get ready for some civic-minded conversation with Saja Aures from the City of Savannah! Here’s Saja’s description:

The City of Savannah is drafting its first Open Government Policy this year. Citizen input is key to creating useful, transformative, and progressive initiatives. Saja Aures, administrator for the City Public Information Office, will open a discussion of intersections between government transparency and innovative tech. Let’s explore collaborative opportunities for Savannah’s designer/developer community to engage and shape their government at the local level.

Bring your ideas and questions and get ready for a great conversation!


  • What: Refresh Savannah
  • When: 4/15 @ 6PM
  • Where: Focus Lab LLC – 35 Barnard St, 2nd Floor

Can’t wait to see everyone!

Discussion: What Makes a Connected City?

Thank you to everyone who came out to Refresh last night! The turnout was more than we could have hoped for and I loved how everyone participated. I thought the discussion was really great and we came up with some really good ideas and paths to recommend the city go down in the process of finding the new “CTO” for Savannah.

The point of this post is to continue the discussion and open it up for folks who weren’t able to attend last night. We said we’d:

  • post the list of the three things the Creative Coast is delivering to the city
  • and the big list of ideas you guys came up with.

You guys (the Refresh Community) are supposed to:

  • Share this post with your respective communities (the Savannah community on Reddit was mentioned, for example).
  • Add links in the comments to cool things happening in other cities.
  • Add comments adding new ideas or fleshing out ideas from the list.

And that’s it! Let’s keep this discussion going! It would be a shame if the energy and passion expressed last night fizzled and doesn’t end up helping to change anything for the better.

Continue reading Discussion: What Makes a Connected City?

A Special December Refresh: What Makes a Technology-Enabled City?

We didn’t have Refresh last month, but we’re going to do something special this month on the 20th! The Creative Coast is helping the City of Savannah figure out what we need to do to become a real tech powerhouse in the region. Here’s their description for the meeting:

The Creative Coast wishes to gather some insightful feedback from the Savannah community on what truly makes a city connected and technology-enabled. As our city grows we want to make certain our city’s technology infrastructure advances with innovative systems and approaches. Well here is your chance. Come along, bring your ideas however wild and crazy and we will capture them and present them to the city who has patiently offered to listen.

And instead of our usual location, we’re going to do this one at The Creative Coast’s office at 15 W York St, at 6 on 12/20! So, come along and bring some crazy ideas about what we can do as a community to enable innovation! I hope to see you there!

How Do We Get There?

You might not notice it if you live in a tech center like the Bay, NYC or DC, but: we live in the future. Compared to most of the people who live around us and the vast majority of the world, we’re so far ahead it’s almost not fair (in a lot of cases, it’s extremely unfair).

Like Clarence Darrow said (well, the fictional Darrow in Inherit the Wind), “All motion is relative. Perhaps it is you who have moved away – by standing still.” We’re leaving people in the dust, either because they don’t have the interest or worse, the means, to keep up. I don’t care about the apathetic, but the digital divide is real and widening.

What do we owe to those we’re leaving behind? I’m happy to leave the apathetic behind. But, I feel like there’s this huge group of people who want to move forward but have no idea where to start, who to talk to, or think it’s impossible to join us.

From an economic point of view, here’s how it breaks down. The unemployment rate in the US has been hovering around 9% for a while now. That looks bad. It looks worse when you break down the numbers. The unemployment rate for people with a college degree is around 4% (5% is considered “full” employment). If you have a graduate degree, it’s at a historic 2%. If you only have a high school diploma, it’s around 15%. Compounding the problem is that college is getting more expensive and kids are leaving school with a lifetime worth of debt, if they can afford to go at all.

I can’t help but feel extremely lucky to be where I am. Yes, I worked my ass off to be here, but I can’t take the credit for coming along when I did, or for the opportunities I was given. I didn’t earn that luck. I was gifted it.

I can’t help but think that if we could find a way to provide that luck to others (and there are a lot of them – 33% of people in Chatham county live below the poverty line and most well below), we could help change things for the better. It’s why I started Free Advice Friday (OK, why I e-mailed Jake and let him run with it) and partly why I do Refresh.

So, where does that leave us? Can we help? If so, how?

Tuesday night’s Refresh with Christian from the library system brought it all home to me. I started Refresh here in Savannah to share knowledge. When I got here all I saw were networking events and happy hours. I wanted a place to meet other smart web people and learn stuff from each other. And over the last 2+ years, we’ve done just that.

I think it’s time to add another dimension to Refresh, and Tuesday night’s meeting is a blueprint. We’re still going to do the development, design and entrepreneurial stuff. But, three or four times a year, I’m going to try to bring in groups who need our help (you know… geek help) to pick our brains. Maybe some of us will volunteer to help out beyond that first couple of hours. Maybe we won’t. But, I think we owe it to our neighbors to help out, even if that’s by offering some free advice from time to time.

Next month, we’ve got the folks from Unmatched Style coming down from Columbia to give us three development and design-related talks. October will be a Geekend Hackfest Primer (also known as Mashup 101). We don’t have anything for November yet, so if you know of a local group that could use some geeky advice, please send them my way and we’ll see what we can do. And don’t forget that the next Free Advice Friday is 9/2 from 12-2 at the Creative Coast office on York Street!

If you made it this far, thank you. If you’ve got ideas for other ways the local tech community can get more involved, please share them!

Some Light Reading on Libraries

Refresh is on Tuesday, and we’ll be talking about the future of libraries. We’ll have the director of the local library system and he wants our feedback on how the library should prepare for the digital future and how they can stay relevant to the community. It’s a great opportunity for Savannah’s local technologists and designers to come together and help influence the future of one of history’s greatest inventions (a place where I can go and access all the world’s information… for free? CRAZY!)

The library folks have sent along a short list of links to get us all ready for the discussion – so, check them out (pun intended) and I hope to see you on Tuesday (8/16) at 6 over at Thinc!

I hope to see you all there!

September’s Refresh: Innovation = Hard Work

September’s Refresh is fast approaching, so it’s time to get my act together and tell you what we’re talking about, right?  This month, Ron Pearl is going to talk about “Innovation”.  Wait, stop… don’t run away!  We’re not going to be talking about the amorphous, poorly defined, silly buzz word version of innovation – we’re going to talk about the real thing, why it’s so difficult to actually innovate and then go over some tools for gathering ideas and boiling them down to actual innovation.  We’ll be going over some of the brainstorming stuff we didn’t get to last month, which should be a lot of fun.

So… bring your brains and get ready to have them blown to smithereens.

We’ll be at ThincSpace again, and this month we’re trying an earlier start time.  So, be at 35 Barnard at 6PM on 9/21 and get ready to innovate!

Also, if you’d like to sponsor, let me know (  I think everyone enjoys the beer and it seems to get things off on the right informal track.

June’s Refresh: Startups and Funding: Featuring angel investor Mark Bandy and an overview TAG’s Economic Gardening program

Yeah, I know I put up a poll and everything and asked you what you wanted to cover, but I’m going to pretend that was for the future and not for June. Why? Because I went out and got an actual angel investor, Mark Bandy, to come talk to us about starting a business, when to seek funding and what the angel funding process is like. Yeah, I know!

We have to push June’s Refresh back a week to fit his schedule, but I think it’s worth this one time to disrupt the normal schedule. So, June’s Refresh will be June 22nd at 7pm at Thincspace!!

And since the beer went over so well last time, if someone would like to sponsor the evening, you’ll get a chance to make your pitch (about 3 minutes) to the assembled throng and all you have to provide is some refreshments. If you’re interested, send me an e-mail (

We still need volunteers to present for July and August – so if you’re like to present on one of the topics (someone’s already volunteered to cover Agile Development, so NoSQL is up for grabs, or anything else you want to talk about), ping me at the e-mail address above. Remember, you don’t need to be an expert, and if you’re not used to presenting in front of crowds, friendly groups like Refresh are great places to practice. You won’t find a friendlier audience, or one more willing to pitch in and help out if you get stuck. So, if you’d like to eventually speak at industry conferences, I highly recommend speaking at Refresh!

I hope to see you all in June!

Update: And as a last minute addition, we’ll have a short presentation by Kevin Johnson from the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG for short). They recently launched an economic development program called Economic Gardening here in the Coastal Region that focuses on growing small businesses, specifically high-tech or tech-enabled businesses. Angels really like this program because it focuses on getting companies the best marketing research on the market —something that according to local angel investor, Ray Wenig, is the most lacking part of business plans he receives. And, because the services offered by the program are subsided by government, they are really affordable. So it’s a great tie-in. Oh, and TAG is helping with the food and drinks, too!!

Refresh Savannah April: HTML5

There’s been a lot of talk around the internets about HTML5 - what it is and isn’t, what it means for different companies and products, and where the web is going (everyone’s trying to give it a new version number). I’ll try to cut through all the nonsense and show you what you can use today and what you’ll have to wait a bit longer for. I’ve been working on some demos that should give you an idea of what’s possible.

We’ll be meeting at our office again… and here are the details:

Bring your questions and opinions, and I hope to see you there! Oh, and if you’d like a little preview of HTML5, go to the TEDx Creative Coast site and view source. I started it for the demos for this presentation and happily repurposed it for the site!

And better late than never, here are the slides from last month’s presentation: