Author Archives: tara

Tara Brown at White House Cities of Learning

It Takes A Nation Of Makers To Make A Nation

Back in 2012 when the seeds were planted for LA Makerspace, it was still a fairly novel idea. We were the first family friendly makerspace in Los Angeles and we launched one of the first makerspace crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter. People came to our space in downtown LA from all over Southern California because it was the only place like it.

Fast forward three plus years and a lot has changed. There are not only multiple makerspaces in Los Angeles but across the nation.

Last year, President Obama convened Mayors from around the country, and hosted the first-ever White House Maker Faire and issued a call to action that “every company, every college, every community, every citizen joins us as we lift up makers and builders and doers across the country.” By democratizing the tools and skills necessary to design and make just about anything, Maker-related events and activities can inspire more people to pursue careers in design, advanced manufacturing, and the related fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and possibly take their creations to the next level and become entrepreneurs.

In early May of this year, I had the chance to join a conversation at the White House to discuss next steps as part of a Maker Cities Roundtable. I joined twenty communities from around the country in an exciting half-day conversation, where we talked about each other’s successes and challenges, and came away with lots of ideas we should bring back to our communities. We’ve kept the momentum since, and I’m excited by everything going in our community and around the country.

June 12–18th is the Week of Making, and I’m excited to highlight a few things we have already accomplished at LA Makerspace, and what we hope to do in the next year.

  • Facilitated more than 100 workshops at LA Public Library branches including robotics, programming, filmmaking, Minecraft and more.
  • Brought on a new board of directors with experience in education, nonprofits, tech startups and civic engagement.
  • Hired our fabulous director, Mya Stark.
  • Kicked off the Scratch Squad thanks in part to Google Rise. Kids teaching kids how to program.
  • Partnered with Connected Camps to teach LA Public Librarians how to play Minecraft so they can run Minecraft workshops and clubs in their library branches. Their “Minecraft-in-a-box” allows us to host workshops when the internet bandwidth doesn’t meet requirements.
  • Completed our second successful Kickstarter campaign.

What’s next:

  • Planning our next series of workshops at LA Public library branches. We’re expanding to teach younger tinkerers and adults.
  • Partnering with UCLA Remap to host workshops in their space across from the LA State Historic Park in Downtown LA.
  • Writing curriculum for our most popular workshops which we’ll be sharing freely.
  • Hosting an event on Sat., June 13th, 1pm at the Standard to meet and brainstorm with other SoCal nonprofit STEAM organizations to discuss how we can create a network to better share resources and events. RSVP on

I’m proud of the Los Angeles maker community and the mentorship and resources it provides to Angelenos. I’m excited that work being done here in LA and cities across the US is being recognized nationally as vital to the economy and job creation.


Hack for Good: Climate Change Solutions

Geeklist is hosting a global hackathon from Sept. 12-14th to get smart people thinking and creating solutions to our world’s most pressing climate problems.

I created a challenge on Pursuitery to help bring more awareness to the hackathon and to participate virtually from the comfort of my home desk.

There are two ways that I’m contributing to this excellent use of everyone’s time:

First: I am putting together the Sparkle Labs Sparkle Plotly kit that I purchased at the HOPE Conference in NYC this past summer. It’s purpose is to graph light and temperature data in real time collected using Arduino plus sensor circuits and then upload to Plotly for anyone to see.

If more people were collecting real time data about their environment and sharing it then we would have a much more micro view into what’s happening with our environment and would hopefully be more motivated to make a change.

Second: I’ve been thinking about is creating a visual simulation of how the world would be affected if more people participated in Meatless Monday. What would the world look like if 1% more participated, 10%, 20%, 100%. I am starting to collect data focused on cattle because they have the most significant impact on California and it’s water shortage right now. Domestic livestock such as cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and camels produce large amounts of methane (CH4) as part of their normal digestive process. Also, when animals’ manure is stored or managed in lagoons or holding tanks, CH4 is produced. Because humans raise these animals for food, the emissions are considered human-related. Globally, the Agriculture sector is the primary source of CH4 emissions.

I’d love to hear if you are also thinking about climate awareness, adaptation and action.

Climate Awareness Challenges

  1. Public awareness – Gain a critical mass of public awareness and support for addressing climate change
  2. Personal impact – Help people understand their personal impact and carbon footprint
  3. Digital activism – What digital tools can we give to savvy activists and campaigners that will unlock the potential to create powerful movements for climate action?
  4. Compelling visualisation – Create compelling visualisations of climate models and climate impacts
  5. International negotiations – Facilitate effective international negotiations and strong international agreements

Climate Adaptation Challenges

  1. Resilient communities – Build tools to empower strong, prepared and resilient communities
  2. Temperature rise – Respond to heatwaves, drought and agricultural challenges
  3. Extreme weather – Respond to flooding, tropical storms, wildfires and extreme sudden weather events
  4. Ecosystems and nature – Protect and restore ecosystems, natural spaces and animal habitats
  5. NGO collaboration – Facilitate collaboration and communication between NGOs

Climate Action Challenges

  1. Consumer behaviour – Influence and encourage climate-friendly consumption choices
  2. Energy production – Develop global scale solutions for low-carbon energy production
  3. Responsible finance – Encourage responsible finance and divestment away from fossil fuels
  4. Sustainability and energy efficiency – Increase energy efficiency, appropriate use of resources and sustainable business
  5. Reforestation – End deforestation and stimulate reforestation

Learn to Code Links

I have been favoriting “how to code” links on Twitter for awhile now and that seems pretty useless so I’m going to list them here instead.


– Learn the basics to more advanced. Build existing websites that you are familiar with including AirBnB

– Basics plus HTML, Javascript, etc.

Animated GIFs can turn you into a into a web coder. 

– Use to create the glitches and animations then upload to the github repository and make changes and then deploy to a website.

Minecraft Algorithm and Circuit Tutorials (YouTube)

– Learning how to code in Minecraft is awesome. These tutorials use red stone to build complex circuits. There are also plugins so use the Lua scripting language to automate tasks

Not sure what language to learn? Here are the top 10 programming languages (hint: Java is still top programming language)

27 ways to code online.

– Here’s a list, some redundant with what I already listed.

– Crowdsourced learning

Kid Friendly


– This wooden toy teaches kids who can’t read yet how to code


– programming language for young children

Scratch Jr

– My 4 year old has this on his iPad and loves it. He has designed some games for me to play.

Ruby for Kids

Google’s “Made With Code“, an initiative to “creatively engage girls with code”.

– Good for beginners. Choose from existing projects including a 3D printed bracelet and animated gif. Drag and drop shapes to learn about objects, properties and values.

Mozilla Webmaker – Tools, events and teaching guides that allow webmakers to create content and understand how the web works.

– Learn HTML, CSS and build a mobile app

7 Apps for Teaching Children Coding Skills

– Good descriptions of: Gamestart Mechanic, Hopscotch, Tynker, Scratch, Move the Turtle, Daisy the Dinosaur, Cargo-Bot


– Giant robots and JavaScript are your weapons of choice as you program your way to victory in this strategic combat game. No previous coding knowledge is required to crack the code as the game guides you from a beginner, to coder, to hacker


That Time I Was A Meme

I wrote this post on Medium.

“Is this you?”
“Hey, I think this is you.”
“OMG, I think you are a meme!!!”

Over the past week I’ve received dozens of pings from friends sending me links to a photo with the tagline “No one is born racist” and asking if it’s me. It is, and I have to say that in all the things I ever wished for in life, becoming a meme seen by more than a million people was not one of them. That being said, if it helps to spread a positive message then I’m all for it. Except of course when someone said I have a duck-face (thanks to the person who defended me and said I was probably in mid-sentence).

Admittedly I was shocked when a few commenters have suggested that I am racist because in the photo I am looking away. I am not going to spend an ounce of effort addressing that incorrect assumption, but I will say that I think what’s special about this photo is that the moment captured is between my son and our fellow passenger on the Paris Metro, and I’m just in the background.

I am not sure who posted the photo with the tagline, but for the curious, here is the metadata and narrative of the original work:

The photo was taken by my husband, Sean Bonner with an iPhone. It’s August of 2010, we are on Paris Metro but I don’t recall where we are going. Our son, Rips, who was around 5 months at the time, is sitting on my lap. The stranger’s finger he is holding onto is Parisian, a grand-père with 2 or 3 grandchildren, if I recall correctly. The two of us chatted a bit, he then held out his finger to Rips who clamped on and wouldn’t let go. The man had a great smile that Rips delighted in and he didn’t seem to mind entertaining my baby so I went back to figuring out when we had to depart the train. I think I’m in mid duck-face because our stop was coming up and I was telling Sean that we had to gather all of our things and convince Rips to let go of his new friend’s finger.