Downtown Alliance and Control Group inaugurated their collaborative “Tech Tuesdays” in style. As tourists filtered out of South Street Seaport Tuesday evening, the cabana chairs they abandoned were quickly occupied by a different type of visitor. Instead of cameras and cocktails, they wielded MacBooks, sitting in circles with their peers and co-workers as they typed. Avi Flombaum, the dean of the Flatiron School, took to the seaport’s stage to DJ for the night, encouraging everyone to unwind with some tunes as they crunched code under the setting sun.
Chiefly inspired by the zeal of Manhattan’s shifting corporate culture, Tech Tuesdays looks to call on the expertise and vision of the city’s savviest startups to curate educative events in order to foster a better sense of community across LoMa’s rapidly growing tech industry. To best express their respective niches, the event is designed to offer businesses the ability to teach others on their own terms. For the Flatiron School, the H.E.L.M.-winning academy for web development, that meant turning the seaport into their own playground for their event, “Code + Beats.”
“People can use that for their own industries, their own focus,” said Scott Anderson, a partner at Control Group, who helped organize the event. “I think it’s a way for them to not only share their own ideas, but also to share their inspirations with the people whom they look up to out in the community. It’s a way for those companies to use this stage, literally and figuratively, as a platform.” With events slated for every Tuesday through September, the groups involved hope to centralize the scene’s culture and conversation, specifically in light of the city’s efforts to champion tech ventures. “I think we need to realize that we’re contributing a lot to the economy and to the tax base, and that there’s the opportunity to create a lobby and make sure we have a voice in decisions that are happening, whether they’re in the district or in the city or in the community board,” said Anderson. “Places like the Alliance for Downtown New York are opening up their doors and saying ‘Bring us your ideas and bring us your energy and we’ll support you.’”
Daria Siegel, assistant vice president at Downtown Alliance, sees that potential for change as inherent to the values of the tech scene and the neighborhood it occupies. “We really want to promote what’s happening in lower Manhattan – this transformation that’s taking place physically… We’re finally seeing all this construction come to a head and these places are being realized,” she said. “But it’s also happening in the offices themselves – they’re not the same people working in them, doing the same things or working 9 to 5 anymore. It’s really a 24/7 community and people are working on innovative things. Tech is transforming all of these industries.”
Both coordinators were excited by the prospect of LoMa finding a stronger footing in the NYC business space. “I think there are all these forces coming together; the city recognizes that during Take the H.E.L.M. There are opportunities for growing, but they need to all be brought together in some way. And that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Seigel.
“Our interests are for recruiting purposes and just having a great environment, like being able to work and play and possibly even live in the same neighborhood,” said Anderson. “Code + Beats” seemed to celebrate in that spirit, with local programmers amused by the festivities around them.
Flatiron student David Manaster echoed those sentiments, finding the event a great way to have a little fun. “Students get to participate… it’s good for the community,” Manaster said.
“It’s a good thing,” said Charles Lehner, a hackNY fellow, as he coded away amid the whirl of food vendors and music.. “In the future, people will probably have a better idea of what to expect.”
One thing is certain: New Yorkers love their summer escapes and coders are no exception. And if Tech Tuesdays is any indication, it seems that if you want to find one in an instant, just add water.