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.

Mar 24 2016

A Retrospective on Hive Chicago Buzz

#hivebuzz, Go Hive Chi, The Hive Network Effect

The Hive might seem simple enough: a collaborative network of youth-serving organizations, but the mission is more than any one organization can tackle alone. My name is Kevin Wei, a student at the University of Chicago and a Microsoft Civic Tech Fellow. Here is my story, my experience, and my belief that the people that Hive has brought together are going to succeed in their mission: to transform the learning landscape of Chicago.

Setting the Stage

I came to Hive Chicago Buzz, the network’s annual “hack day” under multiple roles: as a Microsoft Civic Tech Fellow, as a student from the University of Chicago, a technologist passionate for change, but perhaps most appropriately, as someone who didn’t really know what Hive was. Two days before the hackathon, I came up with the idea to create a web platform that connected under-resourced nonprofits with technically-savvy students who were searching to do some good. My hope was that youth could both learn from the world-changing organizations that surrounded them and also use their skills support their community and grow as a result.

The day before Hive Chicago Buzz, I immediately reached out to Hive staff via Slack, hoping that despite the deadline I missed, I would still find a space to work on my idea at HCB. Hive Chicago staff assured me that they would do whatever they could to make my idea come to fruition. This was the first of many moments that demonstrated the Hive community’s intense drive to work together and achieve real progress; not only from Hive staff, but throughout all members of the Hive network as well.

Less Yakking, more Hacking!

As we broke out into working groups during the hack-day, I found myself surrounded by like-minded individuals, but with different backgrounds and with experiences from all walks-of-life.

Infused with this passion, Hive’s network allows individuals to maximize their collective potential through the collaboration of diverse, unique voices. Throughout the day, I was struck by the openness with which every actively contributed their talents to my project, affectionately called “Crumbs”.

With over 20 contributors and within 4 hours, we defined our vision for Crumbs, finished mockups through wireframes and discussions, and pitched our work to a crowd of 200+. It was no longer just an idea; it was our solution to an important problem, activated by HCB through a group of individuals all unified by a passion for a better tomorrow.

I could go on and on about the amazing people who have contributed to Crumbs. Edge Q., from and the Chicago Architecture Foundation, helped perfect our goals with his nonprofit experience. Tony G. was integral in creating our wireframes with his web-design and organizing skills. Heather R. from provided her solid project management skills. Tracy supplied her knowledge from NIU and higher education experience. It was simply an unstoppable force of nature to have so many dedicated individuals.

At HCB, the open community made it so that no one cared where you were from, “techie” or “non-tech”, etc. All that mattered was the drive to create a real solution.  This was the definition of collective effervescence, where people are gathered by a mutual interest to work together and become more than the sum of their parts.

The Strength of Hive

Hive Chicago Buzz led me to the realization that the best change is supplemented by an interdisciplinary approach with collaborating perspectives; this is the true value and strength of Hive as a network. The power of the Hive network lies in the fact that people are inspired and intensely unified by the idea of connected learning. Its utilization of a collaborative and inclusive network was going to achieve real things.

In an educational landscape where organizations and ideas are fragmented by physical boundaries and different schools of thought, Hive Chicago Buzz showed me that every new voice added to the conversation always was an added potential for better ideas. And this is where I believe technology can really help us for massive educational change. Each person came to Hive Chicago Buzz unified under the idea that technology provided the bridge between human voices to ultimately improve the educational ecosystem. From RideW/Me to Chattertale, every effort represented a collective belief that by interacting with an infinitely diverse network with varied perspectives could produce world-changing solutions.

In the Hive network, it didn’t matter where you came from or who you were; academics, teens, nonprofit leaders, developers, etc. We were all united by the common belief that seemingly unreachable goals could be achieved through technology and human voice.

To all the people that I’ve played, worked, and bonded with throughout the Hive network, thank you.


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