Appalachia + AGI + Automattic

Connecting Appalachian Mountains High School Students With Global Leaders In Design and Technology Using Remote Collaboration Technologies

In Collaboration With Rebrand Cities And Drexel University ExCITe Center

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Project A3 Goals

Building upon the ethos of WordPress — the open and collaborative technology platform co-founded in 2003 by Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg at the age of 19 — Alliance Graphique Internationale design legends Marian Bantjes, Michael Bierut, Minchaya Chayosumrit, Yung-Chen Nieh, Alejandro Paul, Taku Satoh, Eddie Opara, Nancy Skolos have created visual designs for the web together with high school students in Paintsville, Kentucky and digital designers at Automattic in an all-remote collaboration that spans the world. The one-of-kind visual designs crafted by the AGI designers center around themes that include Home, Art, Photo, Science, Code, Poetry, Water, and Music as presented on the dedicated websites Home.blog, Art.blog, Photo.blog, Science.blog, Code.blog, Poetry.blog, Water.blog, Music.blog as permanent symbols on the Internet of digital creativity. From these websites, anyone can create a blog as a free subdomain like: laura.science.blog or philippe.code.blog, etc.

High school students in Paintsville, Kentucky received training on web design from Automattic, personal branding from CEO Hajj Flemings of Rebrand Cities, creative career advice from Mattel’s Vanessa Dewey, and a personal virtual tour of Drexel University’s ExCITe Center by Director and Professor Youngmoo Kim – the world authority on turning STEM to STEAM. Their interviews of the AGI designers and partnering Automattic designers Kjell Reigstad, Cristel Rossignol, Allan Cole, Mel Choyce, Ballio Chan, Sarah Semark, Ashley von Clausburg, Joan Rho appear as special blog posts on each of the site’s first entries.

“Paintsville Independent is a high performing Kentucky school situated in the coal fields of Appalachia. We represent what is exceptional about public education,” says David Gibson, Superintendent of Paintsville Independent Schools.

Tech Jobs Tour Founder Leanne Pittsford and convener of the folks who got Project A3 going shares:
leanne“It has been no secret that there is a dearth of diversity in Silicon Valley. There is a constant drumbeat that tolls that says these companies don’t know where to go to find diverse talent—so I decided that we needed to do something about it. I know first-hand how many talented, people of color, queer people, women etc. that are not seen and the Tech Jobs Tour seeks to bring diverse and non-traditional talent directly to the source. Our goal is to hit 50 cities in one year to help close the gap between the 500,000K open tech jobs and the talent we know that is available.”
Advisor to Project A3, CEO and Founder of Rebrand Cities Hajj Flemings adds:
hajj flemings“The internet isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity for full participation in American society. Rebrand Cities is a storytelling platform helping to provide a voice for the small business owners in urban cities in America. John Maeda’s work in Appalachia (Paintsville, KY) is inspiring and has helped me to realize the common denominator between Rebrand Cities and A3 — income inequality. Both initiatives are diligently working to close the digital gap that is prevalent throughout the country. Rebrand Cities is about connecting people to resources regardless of their differences and is a proud supporter of projects like A3.”

Advisor to Project A3, L.A.-based cultural connector and in-house design advocate at Mattel Vanessa Dewey adds:

vedewey“Embracing curiosity and being open to following a non-linear path has been the foundation of my life and my career. As the professional landscape evolves at an accelerated pace, it has allowed for new and amazing career opportunities. Thus, embracing one’s curiosity and being open to non-status-quo opportunities is vital. With the A3 project in Paintsville, Automattic is exposing students to key technologies and brilliant creative minds. In doing so, this opportunity is planting seeds for professional curiosity and diverse career opportunities. A3 is inspirational and I am honored to be a part of it.”

Advisor to Project A3, Professor and Director of Drexel ExCITe Center Youngmoo Kim presented LIVE to the Paintsville students from his laboratory a few key examples of advanced technology/arts collaborations such as the Magnetic Resonator Piano and Dancing With Drones to show where the research world is currently taking us.

youngmoo“At the ExCITe Center, we believe the integrated approach of STEAM learning benefits all students, whether in urban or rural settings. While our local efforts support our University’s mission of civic engagement with the City of Philadelphia, we’re delighted to partner with Project A3 to connect with students and professionals in different regions pursuing similarly innovative approaches to education through novel collaborative projects. Though technology can help advance learning, the perspective provided by the arts & design inherent within these projects will be equally valuable, empowering students with the skills, experience, and agency that expand creative career opportunities.”

These brand new Project A3 (Appalachia, AGI, Automattic) websites are available from December 15, 2017 as an expression of youth and possibility, the intersection of art and science, and the special kind of freedom that the open Web and open source technologies fight to protect for future generations.

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Read more about how Project A3 came to be.