The Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner famously observed: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” At this weekend’s music hackathon, my team, All That Philly Jazz, will bring Philadelphia’s jazz legacy to the present.
The Philly Jazz App will map historic places and markers, murals and local venues to hear live jazz.
Looking beyond the hackathon, we will go back to the future and augment reality along South Street, Ridge Avenue and 52nd Street. Back in the day, those corridors were jumping with jazz clubs where legends like John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald and B.B. King hung out. I’m already fantasizing about the Fantasy Lounge, which was located across the street from the studios of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International Records.
All That Philly Jazz is at the intersection of technology and art. The project can serve as a model for how art can be used to motivate underrepresented minorities to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). While jazz appeals to an older demographic, a project on, say, Philly’s or Brooklyn’s hip-hop legacy would resonate with young people who are disconnected from the innovation economy.
For more information, follow us on Twitter: @PhillyJazzApp.
Friday was proclaimed “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Day” by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. All citizens were urged to support the Foundation for the Advancement of Technology in Education (FATE).
FATE is changing the fate of underrepresented minorities by connecting the best STEM ideas to schools and students. And their ideas work. One of FATE’s students, Zora Ball, is the youngest computer programmer in the country.
At the First Anniversary FATE Bootstrap Expo, Philadelphia Deputy Mayor & Managing Director Richard Negrin gave keynote remarks.
Negrin said technology is key:
I love technology. I love innovation. But it’s not technology for technology’s sake. It’s empowering. It changes lives.
Negrin noted that 54 percent of Philly households do not have broadband Internet access at home. They live in “digital deserts” disconnected from the innovation economy and trapped in poverty:
Technology can break the cycle of poverty. Technology can empower all our children. It catapults their learning and thinking. That’s how we get out of this crisis in the education system.
Negrin observed that it is important to connect the dots on how STEM matters in students’ day-to-day lives. But we can’t show them what’s possible because no one knows what the future holds. Instead, we must show students the way, teach them the skills, and free their minds.