After hours on December 15th Substantial was filled with developers, designers, community members and City of Seattle staff. There were even attendees from surrounding cities as well. We were hosting Let It Snow!, a community workshop on how to help the city improve its emergency snow response. For those of you unfamiliar with Seattle, we don’t get snow very often so when it occurs it’s always a big deal on account of our lack of infrastructure, inexperience, and hilly landscape.

Mayor Ed Murray

Mayor Ed Murray started the event with an ode to Cal Anderson, namesake of the park next to our HQ. He touched on themes of leadership and community, setting the stage for the work of the evening.

Mathias Burton from Open Seattle facilitated the event with the intent of gathering ideas and action plans for how city officials communicate with the public during snow-related emergencies. The city invited citizens from a variety of backgrounds, incomes, and neighborhoods, looking for a wide swath of experiences.

Let It Snow Hackathon

During the workshop, attendees broke off into groups of 4-5 mixing citizens, City of Seattle staff, and Substantial employees, and were guided through two exercises:

Exercise 1:
To have the participants describe their own concerns and challenges with snowfall, expand to consider other resident’s concerns and challenges, and identify alternative plans should they lose a technology (Internet outage, dead phone, etc.).

Exercise 2:
Use the data from exercise 1 to produce a storyboard that depicts how technology could solve the identified concerns and challenges around snowfall in the city.

After those exercises each group presented their response plans to the group. The Open Seattle staff gathered these ideas and is currently reviewing them with the city. We’re looking forward to seeing some of these ideas turn into action. Perhaps this meeting will be the catalyst for making snow in Seattle more winter wonderland than snowpocalypse. Let it snow indeed.