Join me at the Ed Lives! Cocktail Gala on February 23rd – or request a subsidized ticket


Will I be seeing you at the Ed Lives! Cocktail Gala & official launch of Toronto for Everyone on February 23rd?

Ed Lives! is bringing together leaders to commemorate Honest Ed’s for the last time on February 23 at 6 pm before it closes for redevelopment, and in its spirit, launch a new initiative called Toronto for Everyone.

Toronto for Everyone is an initiative by the Centre for Social Innovation that will focus on promoting inclusive and collaborative city building through an innovator’s fund, allyship educational series, and advocacy campaign with creative agency, Sid Lee.

It’s an audacious initiative and I’m sure you can agree, more timely than ever. Launching it at Honest Ed’s — a place of grand ambition that wholly stood for community and inclusivity — could not be more fitting.

They are seeking founding members, which means being part a network of city leaders focused on inclusivity that will shape future initiatives of Toronto for Everyone.

Tickets are $259.99 and you can purchase them here. Ticket sales for the Cocktail Gala will go towards ensuring An Honest Farewell is as accessible as possible, to as many as possible.

The night will have a specialty cocktail experience, moving quartet band, food stations from a selection of diverse restaurants across Toronto, a special presentation from outstanding inclusive city builders, including Jay Pitter, Luke Anderson, Jason Carter, Erin Kang and Denise Pinto, a craft beer and art garden by Collective Arts Brewery, and lots of other magical nuggets.

Request a Subsidized Ticket

Do you know a city builder or social innovator just starting out who should absolutely be there? Are you one? I’m going to subsidize the cost of a Gala ticket for five up and comers – so many people helped me when I was just starting out, and I love finding ways to pay it forward. We can even meet up before the event and head over together.

Email me at heather [at] for details.


What is a Hive Pop-Up?


For the project I’m working on for Mozilla, we’re exploring whether or not there’s an opportunity for Toronto to create its own Hive Learning Network. So far, it seems like we have the right ingredients: kids and parents who are interested in participating in the sorts of events that a Hive Learning Network would support, and organizations who see the power that comes from collaborating and sharing resources. The model for Hive Toronto might be similar to the network that exists in New York City, or we might put our own spin on it. But either way, I’m excited about the potential.

What is a Hive Learning Network?

Hive Learning Networks are coalitions of youth-serving organizations dedicated to transforming the learning landscape, creating new opportunities for youth to explore their interests, develop new skills and follow their passions through the educational application of digital media and technology.  They collaborate on projects that leverage digital tools around youth interests from science, art and social justice to filmmaking, hip-hop and skateboarding.

Core beliefs:

  • School is not the sole provider in a community’s educational system
  • Youth need to be both sophisticated consumers and active producers of digital media
  • Learning should be driven by youth’s interests
  • Digital is the glue and amplifier for connected learning experiences
  • Out-of-school time spaces are fertile grounds for learning innovation
  • Organizations must collaborate to thrive

Hive NYC was founded in 2008 and currently has 38 members ranging in size and focus, from The American Museum of Natural History and The Museum of Modern Art to Girls Write Now and Tribeca Film Institute.  Through the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in The New York Community Trust, network members have access to grants every six months to support their innovative and collaborative ideas and projects.

So, What’s a Hive Pop-up?

A Hive Pop-Up is a style or format for an event organized by members of a Hive Learning Network, or by groups who are exploring the possibility of forming a Hive Learning Network. (Currently, there are groups exploring this in Toronto, San Francisco and London, UK, among others.) The main feature of the Hive Pop-Up is that it is made up of different stations (usually between 4 and 10). Each station is run by a different organization (or a couple of organizations collaboratively), and at each station kids have the opportunity to work on a different project. At the Hive Pop-Up that I organized in February, we didn’t have a set schedule or “rotation plan” – kids could wander around and join in the fun at any station that caught their attention. Lots kids tried all the stations, many tried a few, and some kids stayed at one station the whole time.

Although there are lots of ways to run Hive Pop-Up events, here’s my recipe:

Venue: Select a space that isn’t a traditional classroom. I love holding learning events in the Mozilla Community Space and at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto, but if you don’t have spaces like these in your city, a community centre or library will work.

Time: 1 pm – 4:30 pm (Offer attendees a snack around 3:30 pm, and do demos at 4 pm)

Number of participants: Depends on the size of the space. If you’re not charging for the event (most Hive Pop-Up events are free), you should be prepared for some drop off. At the Hive Pop-Up event that I ran at Mozilla in February, 55 kids signed up, and about 50 kids came. (There was less drop off than I expected.) Since we had six stations set up, this meant that there were 5-10 kids at each station at all times, which worked well. Also, if you’re expecting parents to accompany their kids, you may want to consider setting up a “Parent Zone” – a place for parents to go and socialize, which can help kids feel more comfortable as they explore the different stations. We offered coffee, tea and snacks in the “Parent Zone” at the February Hive Pop-Up, and also had Mark Surman run a sort of focus group with the parents to talk about digital literacy and web making skills.

Computers: All of the learning events I’ve run so far (except for Girls Learning Code) have been BYOL – bring your own laptop. This isn’t a great answer (there are a lot of kids who don’t have access to laptops), but it’s the best most of us can do for now. It’s a good idea to try and have a few extra laptops on hand for kids who aren’t able to bring one. You can also try having kids work in pairs.

Signs: Make signs so that it’s clear to the kids what each station is about.

Volunteers: Have tons! You need to have pretty close to a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of kids to volunteers when teaching new digital skills (at least, that’s what I’ve found to work best), and you’ll need some extra people to help with registration, set up, take down, etc. I usually make “Volunteer” one of the ticket types on the event’s registration page, and found that it’s worked really well.

Handouts: It’s a good idea to have handouts at each station to help kids get started with their projects more quickly, and help them if they get stuck. They should almost be step-by-step recipes, including some additional challenges for kids who complete the basic project quickly. Handouts can make the job of the volunteer instructors at each station a little easier.

Connect the dots: Look for ways to have the different projects play into each other. At a Hive Pop-Up in Tokyo, they had kids create games in Scratch and then remix a popular gaming website to include the game they’d created using Hackasaurus. Collaborations at Hive Pop-Ups a great way to start getting Hive Learning Network members to start thinking about ways their organization might be able to collaborate. You never know where ideas for interesting, collaborative projects might come from!

Use it as a chance to get the word out about what Hive members are doing: One of the cool things about Hive Pop-Ups is that they are really effective for showcasing the work of a whole bunch of like-minded organizations. It can be a great opportunity for Hive members (or potential members) to get the word out about what they’re doing to a new or expanded audience. Encourage each station to have brochures, business cards, etc. about their organization and what they do. A Hive Pop-Up can be really worthwhile from a marketing perspective!

I’ll other things as I think of them, but that’s a good start! I can’t wait to put together another Hive Pop-Up event in Toronto!

So, Who’s Instructing the First-Ever Ladies Learning Code Workshop?


For more info about Ladies Learning Code, follow us on Twitter or check out our Facebook Page. We also have a Tumblr account here. If you’d like to join our email list (180+ subscribers already!), click here.

Ever since launching #ladieslearningcode a bit over a month ago, the support from Toronto’s developer community has been incredibly heart-warming and super encouraging. Our developer email list (for people interested in helping us as instructors) has grown to over 50 people in just a few weeks. Even though we launched our August 6th workshop (and guaranteed a 4:1 student-to-instructor ratio) without confirming with any potential instructors about getting involved, we felt confident that the developer community would come together and support us. And have they ever.

So, who’s instructing the first-ever #ladieslearningcode workshop? Check out the bios below to find out!

Lead Instructor: Pearl Chen (@androidsnsheep | Google+)
Research & Tech Manager at CFC Media Lab

Why is Ladies Learning Code important to you?

For my entire professional career (especially while freelancing as a web developer), I have never found myself working with another professional female developer (except once when I was involved in the hiring process). So…where are you, ladies? What scared you off? I hope Ladies Learning Code will help me answer this.



Crystal Preston-Watson (@jadedskipping |
Owner, Discrete Signal

Why is Ladies Learning Code important to you?

#ladieslearningcode is important to me because I think it can be it a key element in destroying the myth that women can’t (or don’t want to) be programmers. By reaching out to women who are interested and desire to learn programing and giving them not only the tools but a supportive environment to learn, we not only shape their futures but the future of tech as a whole.


Amrita Mathur (@amritamathur |
Director, Marketing at PriceMetrix Inc.

Though Amrita won’t be instructing (she started her career as a developer but is a marketer now), she has been an enormous help in planning and prepping for the workshop.

Why is Ladies Learning Code important to you?

Having worked in the high-tech sector all my life, I had almost come to accept a work environment that was male dominated. I was on a lot of sports teams as a kid, plus I took Computer Science in University (with all of 11 women in my class), so working and dealing with men has never been an issue.

What has been a problem though is a lack of the female perspective in product development, design and user experience. As more and more consumer apps and products come out, I find myself thinking – hey, wouldn’t it be better if women designed this stuff?! So many of these products are social, and women currently dominate social media and social product usage. Then how come women aren’t developing and designing these products? Doesn’t it make sense that women have more ownership of these products?

It was so obvious. We absolutely needed to see more women in tech… and in development and design specifically!

This is a big part of why I relished the chance to join and grow LadiesLearningCode in Toronto. My selfish motivation of course is that I would welcome and enjoy having more women to work with in the tech industry; but more than that, I wish to eventually help change the thinking of younger women getting into schools and colleges. I want them to understand that being in tech doesn’t have to be mind-numbing or painful, but rather an opportunity to shape the technologies that propel our lives.

I am grateful and enthusiastic to have joined a group of rich, diverse women to help make this happen.

Mike Conley (@mike_conley |
Thunderbird Developer at Mozilla

What are you passionate about?

The web!  Keeping the web open and accessible as a communications and innovations medium.  When I’m not working on Thunderbird, I enjoy working on open-source software (Review Board, MarkUs), and writing music / doing sound design for independent theater companies in Toronto.

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

I was referred by Greg Wilson, my M.Sc. supervisor.

Gavin Lobo
University of Ontario Institute of Technology, grad student, research assistant, tutorial instructor

What are you passionate about?

Teaching,  Science, Mathematics,  Programming

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

I thought it was a great idea to encourage women to get involved with programming!


Jay Goldman (@jaygoldman |
VP Strategy at Klick

Special thanks to Jay and his team at Klick for hosting our workshop dry run on August 3rd. We appreciate it!)

What are you passionate about?

My beautiful daughter, Sophie. Having her fundamentally changed everything in my life. It made me want to reshape this world for her — to fill it with sunshine and possibilities and open doors. She just turned two and is working hard on colours and the alphabet, so JavaScript might be a little advanced, but I’ll bring out to one of the future events :)

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

I have a deep technology background and have always fought against the male domination of my industry, trying hard to create opportunities for women whenever possible. Sophie has only accelerated that, and #ladieslearningcode is an excellent first step toward making sure she has a future in this business if she wants it.

Phyliss Lee (@phyllers |
Research Technician at the Princess Margaret Hospital

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about getting more women in technology and engineering, but also interested in human computer interaction and user experience design.

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

I think that it’s important for more women to to get into technology and engineering. As a teenager I was told that I shouldn’t go into computer science because it was all men, but being female shouldn’t be a limitation on what I can and can not become. In a graduating high school class of 80 young women, only 5 went into a technical (engineering or computer science) field. I want to see more women becoming software developers and engineers.

Christina Truong (@christinatruong |
Front-end Developer at Teehan+Lax

Christina will be presenting one of two “Lightning Talks” at our August 6th workshop. We hope she’ll hang around for a bit with us, too!

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about the web industry of course! In addition to that I love food and trying different restaurants and I LOVE SHOES!  I have 30+ pairs.

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

I thought it was a good opportunity to get more women involved in the technology field and to be an example for those who may be interested in getting into the development side of things.  I also hope to help those who are non-developers but work in the web industry to get more of an understanding of what exactly web developers do.

Laurie MacDougall Sookraj (@lmds)
Senior Analyst @ University Health Network

What are you passionate about?

Taking broken software and making it work, building stuff that’s useful to people and helps them to do their work more effectively.  Also hammocks, cupcakes, and martinis.

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

Seemed like a good way to encourage people to get involved with technology, which can sometimes be intimidating, especially for women in a world where the gender imbalance in computer science often looks like 10 men to every 1 woman.  It’s fun to see the satisfaction of making something work that you built yourself, and of learning something new, especially for people who have never done this sort of thing before.

Svetlana Kolupaeva (@skolupaeva)
Java developer / Team leader @ Exigen

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

Oh, I had plenty of reasons and it was a perfect timing for me to run into #ladieslearningcode on the web :)
I’m new to Toronto. I am a woman in technology. And I feel doing ‘the right thing’ by supporting ideas that touch me.


Monika Piotrowicz
Interactive Developer

What are you passionate about?

I absolutely love being a web developer.  I feel so lucky  to be in a field where I can collaborate with people and learn new things every day.  Whether it’s fixing a bug, or seeing a site go live, it’s very rewarding to know that I’m part of building something that hopefully others may find useful, informative, or entertaining. When I’m not in front of a screen, I love trying out new recipes, watching movie marathons, and playing the very distinguished sport of dodgeball! :)

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

I thought this sounded like a great initiative to introduce web development to women and also saw it as a chance to meet some like-minded ladies!  The Toronto tech scene in general is a really great community, so I also wanted to give something back.  I hope there will be more and more Ladies Learning Code after this event!

Melissa Luu (@melissa_s_luu)
Interface developer at Nurun

What are you passionate about?

Traveling and food.

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

I decided to get involved with Ladies Learning Code because I would like to help educate others with what is involved in the web development. This includes providing new developers with insight into this field and also helping marketers and PMs understand the real complexity of the web development process.

Emir Hasanbegovic (@phigammemir |
Agile Engineer at Xtreme Labs Inc.

What are you passionate about?

Developing core infrastructures that can be used as tools over and over again.

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

(From the editor: Emir neglected to include a response here, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he is helping us out on August 6th because his girlfriend – and my very good friend – @lauralynplant is reponsible for Developer Outreach…and yes, that means you should contact her if you’d like to run a workshop! If you just want to help out, join our developer email list.)

Jon Lim (@jonlim |
Product Manager of PostageApp, The Working Group

Jon will be our official photographer and videographer on August 6th. Smile, everyone!

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about building awesome things, or helping other people build awesome things. If I love your cause or your project, I will probably sing about it from the mountain tops.

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

At The Working Group, we have a team of amazing coders who produce quality code and it was a no-brainer to get involved. In addition, I could personally contribute with my camera, and what a better way to document all of the amazing women (and men!) who are involved in the process.

Thank you to everyone who has offered to help us…

There are too many of you – it will have to be an entirely different blog post. Plus, it’s 1:45 am and I want to go to bed.

Can’t wait for August 6th!

Toronto “Ladies Learning Code” Call-To-Action


Oh dear. What have I gotten myself into?

I go to LA. I attend this awesome “Intro to Python” workshop with the PyLadies. I come home and I write a blog post about it, with a teeny-tiny little paragraph at the bottom suggesting that we get something like this going in Toronto, Canada.

Well, it’s a testament to the strength and character of the Python community – the word spread.

Toronto wants a “Ladies Learning Code” group, too!

As of today, I’ve received almost a dozen emails from ladies interested in getting involved (@melissacrnic and @NicoleRashotte were early cheerleaders!) and others interested in helping us get started. People have already offered us space, sponsorship, and help with promotion – plus, I’ve also been contacted by a few people who want to volunteer and share their knowledge!

I think we’ve tapped into an unmet need in the Toronto community.

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So, Who Won Startup Weekend Toronto?


(Yes, I’m going to tell you who won. But I’m not going to let it ruin this post, for those of you who haven’t heard the news yet.)

I wrote another blog post this morning (well, I aimed for morning…it actually came out in the afternoon) about Startup Weekend Toronto and the progress the teams had made by then. Check it out below!

SPOILER ALERT: Want to know who won? Click here to see who came in third place, here for second, and click here to see who won the grand prize!

Check out the post below – if you have a chance, I highly recommend visiting the websites and landing pages of the other teams that competed. Many of them will continue to work together post-Startup Weekend, so you should sign up now for beta access!

Let me know what you think of the post in the comments section below.

PROGRESS UPDATE @ Startup Weekend Toronto

Written by Heather Payne (@heatherpayne)

Hey everyone! It’s about 1 pm on the third and final day of Startup Weekend Toronto – and the energy here is awesome!

Didn’t make it out to Startup Weekend Toronto? Curious about the progress of our teams after reading this post? Or, maybe you’re at Startup Weekend but are drowning in code and haven’t had the time to take a look around and see what everyone else is up to. Not a problem – we’ve compiled a #SWToronto Progress Update! Check it out below.

In no particular order…

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