Khari Diop, February 17, 2016 | 2 min read

It’s Never Too Late

Beginning again is never that easy, especially the older I get.  But there are times in each of our lives when we are faced with a challenge that causes us to do just that, begin again. In my case, that meant making an extreme pivot from my life of relative simplicity centered on family and home, to redirecting my focus towards a brand new world of interesting and complex computer coding languages and web technology application development.  Not as if these things haven’t been essentially critical parts of my life already, the invisible digital world woven into the fabric of my daily work and play. Whether it was using GPS to navigate while driving part time for Uber and Lyft or shuffling tiles in an online puzzle game to pass the time with a friend, there was the ubiquitous, many-fingered hand of technology built by brilliant coding minds operating silently and steadily right behind the screen.  Almost all of life’s modern magic and marvel is created through carefully crafted, scripted code running algorithmic relays billions of times in the blink of an eye. I want to be a part of that magic-making, to bend the web to my will, and create beautiful tools for people to use.

In a former life, I managed the programming and operations of an inner-city greenspace including a community garden, an urban farm, and a barnyard livestock menagerie. Though a relatively easygoing gig with minimal direct supervision and lots of opportunities for daily inspiration, many of the amazing, little stories that were happening in each moment of every hour of every day got lost in the sauce, dwarfed by the immensity of maintenance and upkeep responsibilities inherent in keeping a complex, dynamic organizational ecosystem going.  So much of my job was defined by the necessity of quantifying impact for business-minded leaders, corporate funders, and other assorted community stakeholders.  At times, the business of record-keeping, data collection and analysis, made what should have been an ideal working situation, downright tedious to say the least. Sometimes it was almost defeating to have to scramble to translate the long hours of blood, sweat, and tears shed out in the field to a bunch of people in suits who spent their days in air conditioned offices. And then there was that other ongoing tension caused by having on one hand, a necessity for outreach, needing to bring folks into our space, while on the other hand having limited ability to reach out and touch folks digitally. I believe that in any problem lies opportunity, if we only can ask the right questions. How do we utilize web-based technology and mobile applications to ease the burden of data collection and analysis, information sharing and storytelling, and outreach for the many people doing good grassroots work out in the community? And that question, folks, is what led me here to this new beginning, because according to how I look at things, it’s never too late.