above: Screenshot of Kristle's Small Business Directory, autogenerated with my code.

The unjust killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and countless others has revived nation-wide protests and with them, the conversation about the plethora of problems that white people in America create for Black people.

I've noticed a pattern among online activists: people are creating directories containing small and/or black-owned businesses that need our support. Some have likened these directories to a modern-day green book. In a lot of cases, people are taking the quick & dirty approach: creating a google spreadsheet or document, and sharing a view-only link. In other cases, people like my good friend Kristle (@kristhecreative on Instagram) are manually maintaining PDFs and publishing updates on a semi-regular basis. This is a time-consuming, repetitive, and arduous process.

Any time I observe time consuming or repetitive processes, my mind goes straight to automation. Computers are great at performing repetitive tasks.

I asked myself: what if someone could create a Google Spreadsheet and, with the press of a button, convert the spreadsheet into a website? In theory, it was a simple thing to create, so I set out to create it. This is an example of where I feel my software skills can be applied toward the greater good–and I can have my own positive impact on the movement.

I know myself. I need a tangible deliverable and deadline if I'm going to get something done. To that end, I reached out to Kristle and asked her if I could work with her to convert her Small Business Directory PDF into a website. I explained how this could save her time and enable her to focus on the content of the directory rather than the presentation. She was into it.

We did it. Check out Kristle's Small Business Directory here. Big ups to Kristle for the excellent design and the Small Business Directory she's been maintaining manually for most of the year. Shoutout to @migreva for chipping in on some of the code. This project would have taken me significantly longer to complete without his help.

Now that I have reached my first goal: to prove out the idea and leverage it to make a single business listings website, I am setting my sights higher. My friend Precious lives in D.C. and maintains a spreadsheet containing black-owned businesses in her area. I am going to work to open source the code that I wrote for Kristle's Small Business Directory so that I can reuse it for Precious's website. Look out for a future post once that's complete. At that point, I plan to provide step-by-step instructions for anyone to create their own business directory in a few easy steps.