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Notes from a flash talk not yet given

SRCCON was amazing. I might write more about it, but for now I just wanted to post the slides I put together for a demo night flash talk. Unfortunately due to a dongle issue with my Macbook, I couldn’t present the deck to the crowd in Heritage Hall, but I still wanted to share them.

  • I want to talk about a problem in Philly. Some of us there have been working at it.
  • Who’s we? Well there’s a whole array of orgs interested., Billy Penn, Technically Philly, Al Dia, etc. I got involved through a friend on the board at Young Involved Philadelphia. We got pulled into the Next Mayor Project around Philadephia’s democratic mayoral primary.
  • Philly hasn’t elected a republican mayor since 1944 btw, so you can understand why the Primary is a Big Deal.


  • We started with the goal of GOTV. Well I guess we actually started with beer.
  • Anyway, we conducted a half-dozen interviews with a diverse group of “millennials”. Normal HCD stuff.


  • After we went over our interview takeaways and collated the common themes, it was clear that GOTV wasn’t even within reach right now. These millennials – whatever I use the term for lack of something better – who have been flooding Philadelphia over the past few years simply DGAF.
  • Above is the super-persona we had by the end of the “HEAR” phase of the HCD process.


  • How might we… Use physical prompts to engage people in a digital experience about a policy problem.
  • We came to believe that just the engagement was the goal, bringing them into the conversation. The hope of course is that a little pump-primed engagement gets them caught on the civic bug and voila, they vote.


  • The solution to this prompt that we launched for the May primary in Philadelphia centered around the fact that 10% of every drink sold in the city goes directly to the school district’s budget. The drink tax is just one (and actually one of the more minor) sources of funding for the school, so we wanted to use that contribution as a “hook” for people to wonder, well, why are the schools still always broke then?
  • We used bar coasters in a bunch of Philly’s fine (and not so fine) drinking establishments to capture people’s attention while they were doing the very act of imbibing.
  • You can go to the site right now, here’s what it looks like though.


  • Our hope was that mid-carouse, the folks would either visit our site, or engage with our Twitter presence. And they did! It was cool.
  • The quiz was taken approximately 400 times (so, yes, the number of users who left the page without taking quiz should have been lower – had I more time, we would have A/B tested that).
  • Avg quantity: 5.3/week
    Avg price: $7.10/drink
    Avg contribution: $196


  • But. Was it successful? Did Millennials vote? Not really.


  • This kind of turnout among millennials is bad for our democracy. Even if it’s a historical pattern (folks don’t vote until they have kids)…History doesn’t need repeat itself.


  • How might we use community centered design to solve this… I truly have no idea, but I figured you all might.

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Real publishers, real problems, real opportunities

Here is a copy of my presentation and prepared remarks from WordCamp for Publishers 2019 in Columbus.

Chris Gethard & Mal Blum – Crying At The Wawa (Official Video)

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