(Full disclosure: a couple of local interactive designers and I helped organize Refresh Portland.)

There is a movement spreading across the country.

It’s called Refreshing Cities: a monthly meetup where creatives and technologists alike talk about design, usability and web standards—from Phoenix, Pittsburgh to Portsmouth.

Topics have ranged from the conceptuals to code-heavy, from design principles, visions and philosophies, to jQuery, Microformats and deploying website comps. There’s even software demonstration to seal the deal, and sometimes, award-winning designers may stop by and say hi.

(Incidentally, a lot of Refreshes choose to have their sessions on Wednesday, and many presentations from September featured Microformats.)

Ready? Find out if a chapter exists in your city. Can’t find one? Then you should start your own!

  • Do a Twitter search for “Refresh [your city name].” if you can’t find any, do a Twellow bio and location search for “[your city name] designer” or “web designer”
  • Connect with these people, or assemble a group of friend to put a Refresh event together
  • Make an indentity and website, announcing your next (first) meetup
  • Email Aaron Post to announce that your city is starting a Refresh. He will list your chapter in the Refreshing Cities web listing
  • Make a Twitter account (for example, Portland has @refreshpdx)
  • Watch the conversations that happen across various social media channels through an intelligence feed. An intelligence feed is a collection of filtered RSS from search engines and blogs that helps you quickly track the progress of an event like Refresh. I have assembled a step-by-step guide to build your own, and made one that tracks Refresh Portland publicly available on Netvibes. Please appropriate this for your own city
  • Find sponsorships. Since the event itself is going to be free, at least somebody or a company must be able to donate their space for use one day out of the month
  • Find speakers. To get things started, organizers could b drafted to speak on the first few sessions. It’s also a good idea to plan out a speaking schedule for the months forward. Having an easily accessible form will help you collect interest
  • Broadcast it. On the day of the event, some people will not be able to attend, this is where you need to come in with a camera and give them a chance to be there. For all I know, they could be your speaker next month

Personally, Refresh Portland had been one of the best planning efforts I undertook on 2008. A number of designers and developers showed up on and benefitted off our monthly meetings. Amazing talents connected. Everyone learnt something new every month.

Plan a Refresh next year. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the result.

Bram Pitoyo is a brand strategist, hacker and typophile who aims to unite the creative and technology communities in Portland, Oregon, and around the world. On most days, you can find him planning, organizing and reporting events of this nature. On some other, you’ll find him talking to local personalities.

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