Bridge Foundry: what’s in a name?

From its inception, RailsBridge was specifically technology agnostic. The TeachingKids project, for example, was taught using Ruby, Javascript and Arduino. Our outreach workshops offer full-day curricula each for HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby, and Rails.

Yet the organization name did not adequately express that technological diversity. Many of the projects inspired by RailsBridge opted to select names that better reflected their communities and activities. PyStar, Scala Crash Course, OpenHatch, Boston Python Workshops, PyLadies, Confident Coding JS, etc.

In pursuing 501(c)(3) status to allow for tax deductible donations, the RailsBridge team decided to create a new parent organization that would be focused on the broad charter that RailsBridge has always worked toward.  With our general fund, we can help people who want to start a new activity with their tech or in their region. RailsBridge will continue to focus on the outreach workshops that have so successful.

This new entity needed a new name. Volunteers collaborated on generating dozens of suggestions. In the end, it was easy to find consensus.

Why Bridge is a good part of the name?

It is a concise way to convey what we’re about. The many initiatives of RailsBridge are about “bridging the gap.” The second RailsBridge guideline reads: “Bridge the gap from aspiring developer to contributing community member, through mentoring, teaching, and writing.” We also bridge gaps across communities, between people who have access to tech & skills and people who do not, between people who feel excluded and people who live & breath this stuff with joy. It’s about forging connections. It was not seen as a requirement that RailsBridge and the umbrella org share common parts of the name — that is a “nice to have.”

Why Foundry is a good part of the name?

We selected SchoolFactory as our fiscal sponsor, and created this new umbrella organization because we want to support the self-replicating nature of what we do.  Applying an open source model to the curricula and the workshop organizing materials and patterns has worked really well to spread workshops across the globe.

“Foundry” speaks to creation.  Miriam-Webster’s definition is “the act, process, or art of casting metals.”  We feel like this work we do is a bit of an art. It is certainly a process.  Every interaction is unique.  We value the difference between people and celebrate each workshop as a unique gathering of volunteer teachers and students. The people we teach (or recruit as teachers, TAs and mentors) go forth as individuals who have leveled up their skills, increase diversity in the tech industry, and contribute their own individual talents to the world. Also the workshops which are created in other locations and targeting other communities are each different — we encourage volunteers to take the materials and ideas and make something that works for their situation within pretty broad guidelines.

Foundry also makes us think of “founder” — every workshop organizer is a founder, and many of us are involved in tech startups where we are very much seeking to change thinking about what kinds of people are tech founders. Diversity fosters innovation.

We also like the word “found” in the name. Each of our projects is composed of “found” objects: a small section of time, bits of contributed skill, tons of open source software and documentation. It reminds us of the “stone soup” nature of our first Boston workshop.

Continuity with our History, Bridge to Our Future

The Bridge Foundry name maintains connection to our first three years. We’ve held over 100 outreach workshops around the world, and they’ve become most closely identified with the RailsBridge name. It’s important to us to maintain a link to that name. So the workshops devoted to Ruby on Rails will continue to be known as
“RailsBridge”, honoring its unique history as the first bridge that this foundry of ours created.

The name Bridge Foundry provides flexibility for naming the existing frontend and Ruby curricula, as well as emergence of more. The Bridge Foundry organization can flexibly embrace its roles as both foundry and foundation for Bridge building projects with potential names such as as RubyBridge, JSBridge, iBridge, PyBridge, ArduinoBridge, or any others we might imagine. Of course, we welcome projects under any name.  RailsMentors (which is for more than just Rails) and the TeachingKids project will continue under the Bridge Foundry umbrella.

Thank you to all for your support and passion over the years. We hope you like the Bridge Foundry name as much as we do.

Bridge Foundry: what’s in a name?