A Minimalist Map

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Matt Blair

Feb 20, 2011, 10:52:54 AM2/20/11
to Portland Poetry Box Group
Good morning poetry post/box/pole friends,

Here's the executive summary:

There's a map! You can view it here:



My underlying assumptions about this project have changed every couple
of months, but it's always been bouncing around in the back of my
head, in the midst of lots of other projects.

I moved all the data to a completely different kind of database system
back in November, but didn't have time to build anything around it
that would be presentable and usable for the general public.

Then in December, Laura O. Foster wrote about poetry posts during a
week of guest blogging at powells.com:


The interest that article sparked, and an unexpected pause in another
project gave me some time to rethink this project and look at the data
I'd collected so far with fresh eyes.

Reviewing all my notes, and in the interest of getting something
released, I started removing features and the design challenges,
complexity and troubleshooting that go along with them.

In my iPhone app designs, I removed:

* User accounts
* Comments
* Multiple photos per post
* Real-time data refreshing
* Flagging of content and imagery (it will all be moderated anyway)
* And a few other things

What's left?

* the map
* a detail view that includes the address and a photo where available
* adding new locations with photo
* selectable map views for clusters (i.e. Grant Park, Mt. Tabor, etc.)

My new goal was not to build the ideal app, but to get a basic app
released, get feedback, and then build on what people are interested
in over time. I didn't want to see this project sequestered in the
purgatory of my perfectionism any longer.

Then the holidays started, and when I got back...well, it's been a
busy year. I have a significant backlog of work on both paid and pro
bono projects.

But all that data was still sitting in my database, and Laura Foster
and John Milliken had sent me a bunch of new addresses and photos, and
I wanted to get all this in front of the walking public in some

Designing, coding, testing and getting an iPhone app approved is a
non-trivial process. Web maps can be built and enhanced incrementally.
I'd always planned to have a web version in addition to the app
version, and I just decided to build the web version first.

The map is functional and basic, and certainly doesn't include
everything I'd like it to, but it's better than nothing.

At this point, I have 30 locations with photos and 18 without. I've
grouped them into a few geographic areas.

My next goals for the web version are making it work on the iPad and
possibly iPhones and Android, and more information and background
about the idea of poetry posts. I'd like to have a brief blurb about
how to get your own installed, with links to John Milliken and Doug

I really can't say when there will be an iPhone version of this. I
could probably put the minimalist version together in 2-4 days, and if
I get an unexpected delay or stall in another project, I may just go
for it.

Until then, here's a map, even if it's not *the* map, or the app.

Have a great weekend,


John Milliken

Feb 20, 2011, 1:05:36 PM2/20/11
to Portland Poetry Pole Group, la...@portlandhillwalks.com
Hey Matt ... "it takes a village."  Thank you.  Nice work.

As this application is used, grows and matures it would be a boon to give the builder of the pole a credit when on clicks on the photo.  I especially like the 'homeowner' constructed ones and of course enjoy meeting folks and building one for them.  At some point PDX poetry people ought to give Mr. Jim Bodeen of Blue Begonia Press [ http://www.bluebegoniapress.com/index.php?page_id=259 ] credit as his idea got me going by putting up a pole at my house in the mid-nineties. 

Cheers all.  I'm off to a sunny day out by Fort Clatsop.
"El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz"' (respect for the rights of others is peace )
-Benito Juarez

> Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2011 07:52:54 -0800
> Subject: A Minimalist Map
> From: elsewi...@gmail.com
> To: portland...@googlegroups.com

Matt Blair

Feb 21, 2011, 11:44:47 PM2/21/11
to portland...@googlegroups.com, John Milliken, la...@portlandhillwalks.com
Thanks, John.

I like the idea of crediting the builder, and just made a note to add
that into the data model. I have a list of all the ones you've
created, so I'll add your credit in when I update the database.

I'd like to expand the 'about poetry posts' section to a full page,
referencing Jim Bodeen and other poetry post projects around the

I got an inquiry earlier about whether I'm interested in poetry posts
that are outside Portland proper. Yes, definitely! Sue and I had
talked about moving this to other cities over time, and I'm eager to
gather information about anywhere and everywhere this phenomena

I'm still noodling on the best approach, but one of my thoughts is to
make the app location agnostic. Instead of being a Portland-specific
app, it would first look in your neighborhood to see what's around.
For example, someone in Elmira, New York might open the app and see
poetry posts in their area while also learning that there are dozens
in Portland. Someone in Estonia might open the app, and see the
Portland posts as a model, even if there aren't any local ones yet. I
haven't quite nailed down the concept, but I think it is worth
thinking about. If there's one thing I've learned about releasing apps
so far, even Portland-specific ones, it is that the audience is always
broader and more international than expected.

Hope you had a great time at Fort Clatsop,


David Cooke

Feb 23, 2011, 9:59:25 PM2/23/11
to portland...@googlegroups.com
Hey John,
We are reading together next week! 

From: John Milliken <popr...@msn.com>
To: Portland Poetry Pole Group <portland...@googlegroups.com>
Cc: la...@portlandhillwalks.com
Sent: Sun, February 20, 2011 10:05:36 AM
Subject: RE: A Minimalist Map

John Milliken

Feb 24, 2011, 10:23:35 AM2/24/11
to Portland Poetry Pole Group
Great David.  See you at the Wine Bar 3/2!

"El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz"' (respect for the rights of others is peace )
-Benito Juarez

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2011 18:59:25 -0800
From: da...@thelawnguy.org
Subject: Re: A Minimalist Map
To: portland...@googlegroups.com

David Cooke

Sep 30, 2011, 12:34:15 AM9/30/11
to portland...@googlegroups.com
Hello all,
    I am trying this again.  I have big plans for the Poetry Posts and I have started to submit grant proposals.  A few things are needed to get the ball rolling and to insure it keeps rolling.  In short money.  I am not asking for money but I am asking everyone to think about revenue stream options.  The grant proposal off the cuff looks like this...
Building upon the existing network of poetry posts, funds are sought to create a multifaceted poetry distribution, display and appreciation network. It will include physical poetry displays (poetry posts/boxes) at participating homes, businesses, schools, libraries, and municipal buildings. Each poetry post will be photographed, mapped, put into a publicly accessible database, and used by a site or sites such as poetrybox.info. The site funded by these grant moneys will be used as a table of contents for an ever changing journal of poetry with pages scattered throughout the municipalities.
Grant proposals can be geared toward emphasizing, community building, children's education, cultural interactions, artistic development...(any more ideas?)
The geographic scope of this project makes it an excellent venue for advertising.
The enthusiasm of this area for literature makes it an exciting choice for donations and if properly designed could provide recompense for the displayed artists.  The website could allow people to purchase printed compilations with agreements buy contributors detailing permission to display them in Poetry Posts. The site could also facilitate poet tipping thus encouraging poet enthusiasts to donate funds in name of poets they display.  (ideally Poetry Posts would only take a small percentage and funnel the rest of the funds as royalties)
David Cooke

From: John Milliken <popr...@msn.com>
To: Portland Poetry Pole Group <portland...@googlegroups.com>
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2011 7:23 AM
Subject: RE: A Minimalist Map

Great David.  See you at the Wine Bar 3/2!

"El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz"' (respect for the rights of others is peace )
-Benito Juarez

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2011 18:59:25 -0800
From: da...@thelawnguy.org
Subject: Re: A Minimalist Map
To: portland...@googlegroups.com

Hey John,
We are reading together next week! 

Matt Blair

Oct 29, 2011, 4:31:47 PM10/29/11
to portland...@googlegroups.com
Hi David,

First off, apologies for the lateness of this reply. It's been a very
hectic month. I wanted to give this response proper attention, I just
didn't expect it to take so long!

I really like some of the ideas you've presented here, especially the
table of contents idea. It would be really neat to build an index of
what has been displayed when, and by whom. I kind of think of that as
a phase two or three of the project, and putting together some kind of
anthology as a phase three or four.

At the moment, we're in phase zero or maybe 0.9 with the web map.
Having a mobile app with the ability to submit new locations would be
phase 1. I already know exactly how I want to build out the poetry
post app, I just haven't had time to do it. Beyond just the app
design, I'd like to make sure that the mapping information we gather
is re-usable by other projects. Then we could expand from there.

To be frank, I'm really reluctant to mix advertising and the poetry
box concept. It's not my decision to make, I just have a hard time
imagining how it can be done with integrity. And I think it might
exclude more possible venues and offend poets more than it would help
fund the work. But that's an initial reaction – let's discuss.

Have you thought about non-grant strategies like Kickstarter? (Not so
subtle plug: I'm part of a Kickstarter project that's hoping to do a
Portland history app project. You can see it as an example here:

I don't think I'd even sent this out yet, but a filmmaker named Gus
Bendinelli did a video over the summer about poetry boxes that we can
use to help explain the concept:


I included the poetry posts map in two different presentations at tech
conferences in Portland this summer. The audiences were from all over
the world, and the reaction to poetry posts specifically was very
enthusiastic. It seems to strike a lot of visitors as another one of
those idiosyncratic "Portland things" that should probably be on

I'm not saying it's the next Voodoo Doughnuts or anything (hopefully
not, for many reasons!) but I think it has great potential as another
Portland cultural export -- and I mean an export with global reach.
There has been quite a bit of interest in my trees and art apps
outside the US, and those apps are centered around familiar concepts.

Some key questions for discussion:

What activities need to be funded? For whom?

What are the material needs?

What are the staffing/skills needs?

What would an ideal budget for an example project look like?

What is the – not sure about the best word here – the 'receiving
entity' for the grants, and governance structure for the execution of
projects? Are there existing 501(c)3's that would be willing to act as
fiscal sponsors, to broaden the pool of grant opportunities beyond
what is available to individuals or loosely-affiliated groups?

Since we've never met, and there's a lot to discuss, how about a group
meetup sometime in November? Hopefully before Tony takes wing for
warmer climates.

My schedules is pretty flexible from the second week of November. Are
weekends best for everyone? Who'd like to participate?



David Cooke

Oct 29, 2011, 4:39:22 PM10/29/11
to portland...@googlegroups.com
Anybody going to the Whitman Lucky Lab celebration tonight?  I will be there.

Matt Blair

Oct 29, 2011, 4:44:30 PM10/29/11
to portland...@googlegroups.com
I hadn't heard about it. Which Lucky Lab, and when?


Sent from my iPhone

David Cooke

Oct 29, 2011, 8:19:03 PM10/29/11
to portland...@googlegroups.com
If you get there Matt I'll be the shaved head guy in the gold plaid shirt. 

From: Matt Blair <elsewi...@gmail.com>
To: portland...@googlegroups.com
Sent: Saturday, October 29, 2011 1:44 PM
Subject: Re: Grant money reboot and idea solicitation


Oct 29, 2011, 8:58:43 PM10/29/11
to portland...@googlegroups.com
Something else for discussion:

Not advertising, but the occasional use of a Poetry Box for a Public Service Announcement (PBPSA).

Example: Consider posting a MISSING flyer for http://www.Findmark.org.. see sample posters on the site.  Certainly would give people something to think about.

Extra points for anyone making a Poetic version.

John Miller

Tony Pfannenstiel

Oct 29, 2011, 10:15:04 PM10/29/11
to portland...@googlegroups.com, portland...@googlegroups.com
Matt: I like the way your thinking on this. Let's meet at my house mid November. Let's nail down a time now. How about a mid week, if your week ends are tied up. A couple of hours ought to do it?
Count me in.

Lastly, I'm heading home tomorrow after two weeks at the beach. Me and Pugz foraged for wild mushrooms. Would you like some? I'm gonna get a platter over to Dave. He lives em. Please advise.

Sent from iPhone

John Milliken

Oct 30, 2011, 12:23:16 PM10/30/11
to Portland Poetry Pole Group
RE:  Advertising
One comment as a person who might have a small benefit in advertising within the application:  Don't - From a tactical aspect of pursuing a grant, 501(3) c status and attracting poetry lovers - best to work generating funds from another angle.

-John Milliken

"El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz"' (respect for the rights of others is peace )
-Benito Juarez

> Subject: Re: Grant money reboot and idea solicitation
> From: tony...@aol.com
> Date: Sat, 29 Oct 2011 19:15:04 -0700
> CC: portland...@googlegroups.com
> To: portland...@googlegroups.com

Laurence Cotton

Oct 30, 2011, 1:09:37 PM10/30/11
to portland...@googlegroups.com
Hi Tony & Co. (David, Matt, John)--

Sorry to be out of touch, but I would like to continue to be part of the conversation. (I have been out of town, state more often than not from June through to last week.) Back for the next couple of months.

Thanks for all the hard work and excellent thinking on this endeavor.

Laurence (Larry) Cotton

(503) 349-7636

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