Article by Ryan Smolar
I have been in Santa Ana for nearly three years. Over that time, I've dropped a lot of hints to educators, business leaders, government and non-profits that I believe creative and tech industry catalyzation and connectivity is the key to securing quality of life for Santa Ana's residents and sustainability for our community and business sectors.
I gained these appreciations for technology and creativity from my own life experience -- I've made my income over the course of the last 10 years with just a laptop and self-taught online technologies. I'm not saying this to humble-brag, I'm saying this because I think everyone has the capability of learning these widely-available technologies, accumulating a little business savvy (or at least how to create an invoice and file taxes) and finding their value and natural skillsets they bring to the world.
As technology has progressed, it's getting easier to create value by responding to Fiverr ads, setting up your shop on Shopify, or picking up work off LinkedIn. The technology of production are ubiqutous and cheap through services like Canva, Weebly and Animoto and the ever-new march of hardware like augmented reality, 3D printing and VR are creating new markets and platforms for products and content that need to be created by somebody (cue future entrepreneur or knowledge-worker).
I have read widely on the topic of entrepreneurship and startup communities. The most informative books on the topic are Richard Florida's Rise of the Creative Class and Gavin Newsom's Citizenville. These books detail an emergent relationship between our communites, governement and individuality that is liberated by rampant creativity, open participation and technology.
Startup Santa Ana is my attempt to catalyze more creative/techneprenuership and social enterprise using a project-based model that gets us collaborating and sharing skillsets on projects that can help benefit our community.
Some of these projects have already been initiated and are in a maintenance mode, like our Pedal Theatre. This project was the brainchild of Manny Escamilla, a city employee and community creative who brought the idea to one of our meetings. We connected Manny with AKNS Parker, a downtown creative firm who funded the engineering and created cool branding for the Pedal Theatre, which is essentially a bicycle with a movie projector that can be used to ride around and show projections of content on walls.
Other projects are just getting started like our Nextdoor Campaign, a project dedicated towards getting more neighbors on Nextdoor.com, a social network for residents of the city to share information with their neighbors.
Right now, there is a huge disparity where one neighborhood has over 500 residents signed-up and others have as few as 20. We're thinking of creative ways to connect more residents through this tool which will give us a broader capability to communicate and collaborate with more of our city.
You can join this project or pitch us another project you'd like to lead or leave behind for someone to pick-up later.
The main point is that Startup Santa Ana helps to promote collaboration, technology and creativity through catalyzing communitiy projects. I hope that you'll join us and help make a huge impact on the city, our businesses, quality of life and youth and workforce development opportunities.