Knowledge Commons DC


Above the Bike Shop popup. Tables by Kate Clark and Briony Hynson. (Photo: David Ramos.)

Design, software development, and organizational growth for an education nonprofit

Django/Python development, HTML/CSS development, user experience design, graphic design, community organizing, and nonprofit management
Live site

I help to run Knowledge Commons DC, or KCDC, a nonprofit organization that works to build a community of teachers and learners in and around the city. KCDC offers free, open-enrollment classes on a range of subjects — more than 900 classes since the project started in 2011. Its teachers have led movement workshops in museums, discussed justice system issues in a moot courtroom, used balloons to take aerial photos in parks, taught renters about tenant's rights, and conducted wastewater treatment plant tours. Programs have been covered by NPR, MSNBC, and the Washington Post. The success of our model inspired a similar organization on the West Coast, Knowledge Commons San Diego.

KCDC is:

  1. A nonprofit organization
  2. A software platform
  3. A way to connect people with each other and the city they live in

I serve as one of the core organizers. My role includes strategy and finances, leading the design/technology team, and writing the software the holds the school together. Everyone involved volunteers their time.

Intro video produced by Stone Soup Films.

Software platform

website image

KCDC offers nearly 200 classes a year in partner spaces across the city. It can only operate at this scale because of its website, which is backed by a custom Django/Python web application to handle student communication, registration, and coordination. The software responds to and reinforces KCDC's consensus-based organizational structure. We draw on qualitative evaluations and quantitative data to help steer our decisions.

Live site,, and GitHub project.

class data viz

KCDC's registration system collects data that help inform our decisions about programs and scheduling.

Repurposing and reimagining spaces

class photo

Diana Sanchez's Make a Camera Obscura class hosted by the Nature Lab in Takoma Park, Md. (Photo: David Ramos.)

We work to change our participants’ experience with place. Our classes usually take place in borrowed spaces around DC, and we cooperate with the DC Public Library and the DC Department of Parks and Recreation.

We have operated two popup classrooms: first, in Adams Morgan in the winter of 2013, then a larger space in Brookland/Langdon in fall 2015. Grant funding from CulturalDC gave us four months residence in a Rhode Island Ave. NE storefront.

handpainted sign

A sign for the KCDC Rhode Island Ave. NE popup space. Painted with Diana Sanchez.

class photo

Eliza Barclay's Urban Garden Bike Tour. (Photo: David Ramos.)


Bill Brower's tour of biosolids recycling facilities at the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant. (Photo: David Ramos.)