Since January 1, 2018, stewardship of Hive Chicago has transitioned from Mozilla to a new local non-profit, the Chicago Learning Exchange (CLX). Please visit us at chicagolx/joinus to learn how you and your organization can join our growing community. The Hive is still the Hive.

Jan 20 2015

Hive Chicago Buzz Recap: Celebration and Activation

#hivebuzz, Hive HQ, The Hive Network Effect

On January 15-16, 2015, the Hive Chicago Learning Network celebrated its fifth anniversary at Hive Chicago Buzz, an event for which we made big plans for celebrating through collective action.  We are grateful for the impressive response of so many people whose engagement exceeded our expectations–both in the celebration of our past successes and in the activation of new solutions.  Over the coming weeks we will continue to share updates on the progress ahead.

Enjoy this slideshow of images, courtesy of the Chicago Art Department.


  • Over 200 people joined the Hive for our two-day birthday celebration, many attending both days.
  • Over 100 youth and adults joined us for our hackday resulting in a dozen plans, projects, videos, websites and app prototypes.
  • Active engagement on Twitter, including more than 120,000 impressions from @HiveChicagoBuzz tweets Thursday and Friday, and this one:

  • On Civic ArtWorks, attendees contributed 31 new Ideas within our 6 Moonshot Projects. Since Day 1 of the event those projects have gotten over 1100 views. The ideas have been viewed 1700 times.
  • Participants included Hive Networks in Chicago, New York City, and Pittsburgh.
  • In addition to my remarks, we heard inspiring remarks from:
    • Brian Bannon, Commissioner, Chicago Public Library
    • Gary Johnson, President, Chicago History Museum
    • Michelle Larson, President and CEO, Adler Planetarium
    • Jackie Moore, Founder and Executive Director, Agape Werks
    • Mark Surman, Executive Director, Mozilla
    • Connie Yowell, Director of Education, MacArthur Foundation

A Celebration of Community

Day 1–the Buzz Generator–was our chance to celebrate Hive’s first five years.

Our anniversary event began with a celebration of the community of educators and the teens they serve.  Being serious about changing the learning landscape for teens in the digital age means that we must also be serious about mobilizing educators and investing in their ability to innovate.  So we celebrated Hive as a community of shared vision, built on a next-generation professional learning community at its core, and producing real outputs, such as: 

  • A Vibrant Peer Learning Community with:
    • Active online channels where practitioners are choosing to work in the open;
    • Energized convenings such as meetups of 40-80 people every month; and
    • Growing membership of 86 Members and Allies, and 150 individual Community Members.
  • An Active Program Pipeline supported through the Hive Fund for Connected Learning at the Chicago Community Trust through which we have:
    • Supported the investment of more than $4.5M;
    • Produced 92 new projects and programs for teens; and
    • Engaged hundreds of adult practitioners and tens of thousands of youth.
  • An established culture of risk-taking and innovation from which:
    • Moonshots emerged as a way to focus our collective action;
    • Hive Chicago travelers supported the Action Incubator at MozFest 2014 in London; and
    • Maker Parties have been adopted and are spreading as demonstrations of connected learning.

The Activation of New Solutions

 It was during the high engagement of Day 2–the Honeymaker–that we achieved the ultimate goal of the celebration, which was to fully activate new solutions to the unmet opportunities and challenges facing the network.  Here is an early list of some of activated solutions that emerged from the working sessions.

  • Parent Engagement – constructing a narrative about what connected learning is and why it matters, this group hacked on messaging that can be shared by Hive and Chicago City of Learning (CCOL) in their outreach to parents.
  • Think Tank – developing a measured approach to youth programming, members of the data working group (dubbed the Think Tank) pledged to create a self-evaluation of their data usage and to provide professional development to help members conduct their own analyses.
  • School-Hive Connection – creating bridges from connected learning innovations to the formal schooling environment, they are fostering vibrant professional development opportunities for Chicago teachers – both on-line and face to face.
  • Youth Engagement – youth were engaged, not just as learners and participants in our programs, but as authentic co-creators of Hive Chicago’s learning community.
    • A proposed hack on Hive membership: issue a call for Hive member organizations to each provide one youth representative, resulting an immediate learning pathway for more than 50 teens to serve as program collaborators and co-designers.
  • Youth Onramps – building on the foundation of a currently funded project, we are strengthening both online and offline onramps for youth seeking learning opportunities.
    • Through greater interoperability of online platforms, onramps are being extended in ways that provide greater access to CCOL’s programs and digitally badged learning opportunities.
    • Offline access to opportunities is being extended through Maker Parties as a model for supporting neighborhoods seeking innovative forms of community activation.
  • Transportation – It will take one – or many – network-level solutions to achieve a system where any teen in any part of the city can access any program they want.
    • Using waggler bees as inspiration, members of this working group are taking a grass-roots approach to transportation with a focus on ways youth can travel safely and effectively via shared public transportation solutions – a youth ride-sharing concept.

Here’s How You Can Contribute

To ensure that these early outputs continue to grow we need the input of many minds, voices, and hands.  Here are some of the many ways for you to contribute! 

  • Continue discussion at the project pages via Civic ArtWorks.
  • Attend our next meetup, 9am-12pm, Thursday, February 19, at the Harold Washington Library. Our meetups are on the third Thursday of each month, are open to all, and are the place to continue moving this work forward.
  • Consider applying for funding through the Hive Fund on a proposal developed in collaboration with a Hive Partner Member organization.
  • Apply for your organization to become a Hive Ally.
  • For individuals, apply to earn the Hive Community Member badge via
  • Subscribe to our blog.

Many Thanks!

We wish to sincerely thank everyone who contributed to the success of this event which we hope will live on beyond our fifth anniversary.

Along with celebrating Hive’s outputs over its first five years, we recognized the contributions of the key institutions and individuals without whom Hive’s foundations would not have been so firmly established.

These acknowledgements would be incomplete without a recognition of the daily work of current Hive staff in support of all of our collective efforts.  Thank you, Elsa, Kyle, and Robert, for providing so much of the vision, energy, and execution that allows the network to continue to evolve!


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