Category: Uncategorized

This year we are setting up letter boxes at historical sites around Troy near the Flag Day parade route on 3rd & 4th Streets. The letter boxes contain a stamp, stamp pad and log book for people to use in typical letterboxing fashion. Want to know more about letterboxing? This web site is a great place to start!

Here is our clue sheet for all the letterboxes, which will be in place by Sunday, June 11th in time for the parade (a few might be out earlier too!). Below is a copy of the press release for the event:


For Immediate Release

Contact Jon Elbaum, 518-795-0934

TROY CULTURAL ORG LAUNCHES GEOCACHING PROJECT @ FLAG DAY PARADE Find 8 Hidden Boxes with 8 Original Stamps Commemorating Bicentennial

TROY, NY (6/8/16) — The Troy Cultural Alliance is launching a “geocaching” / “letterbox” treasure hunt on Sunday, during the Flag Day Parade, to promote Troy’s bicentennial celebration.

There will be eight hidden “caches” (waterproof plastic boxes) hidden at historically significant sites not far from the Flag Day Parade route.

Inside each hidden box there is a unique rubber stamp featuring an original image of an historic Troy building or landmark drawn by local artist Ben Karis-Nix using a computer and stylus. Tom Tongue, executive director of Tech Valley Center of Gravity, made the rubber stamps using one of the center’s laser cutting machines.

“When you find one of these caches, you get to take the stamp out and stamp paper that we will provide,” Tongue said. “If you’re good at following the clues, you can find all eight.”

Members of the Troy Cultural Alliance will be distributing “passports” and clues during the Flag Day Parade. The passports and clues will also be available in the vestibule of the Tech Valley Center of Gravity, located at 30 Third St., at The Rensselaer County Historical Society, located at 57 Second St., and at The Arts Center of the Capital Region, located at 265 River St., and they will be available for download online at:

“Some clues are just GPS coordinates that tell you pretty much where the box is, though you may have to look around the site a little bit. Other clues are observational clues,” Tongue said. “We tried to hide the cache in some cases. There are even a few multi-stage cashes where the first box contains a clue to where the real cache is located.”

“We wanted historically significant sites that have reflected 200 years of Troy’s history, whether it’s industrial or social civic,” said Kathy Sheehan, Rensselaer County and City of Troy historian. “If this goes well we have identified more sites throughout Troy, including Lansingburgh, where we can hide more boxes and stamps during the rest of the bicentennial year.”

According to Sheehan, this project borrows a little bit from “geocaching,” which is a modern outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices, and “letterboxing,” which traces its roots back to 19th century Britain and features remote boxes for leaving postcards to be found and mailed by the next hiker.

“This is a fun, different twist on something that has been going on for a few hundred years,” Sheehan said. “You’re going to have to look at the buildings, look under things, look at the clues, to find the hidden boxes.”

While seven of the eight images are straightforward depictions of the Troy landmarks, The Green Island Bridge is fancifully depicted as “TroyBot,” a giant superhero that can transform itself from a bridge into a benevolent humanoid robot protector of the city.

The beloved character, created by Karis-Nix, already appears on t-shirts, in online videos and in murals. This special stamp shows TroyBot as never before depicted and should delight fans.

“I think I’ve convinced my five-year old that TroyBot is real. Whenever we drive over it, he says ‘That’s the bridge that turns into Troybot! He’s a bridge right now but sometimes he turns into robot,’” Karis-Nix said. “The plan is to have these stamps in use perpetually, so people can find them for a long to come and they will become part of the Troy imagery and ephemera that one can collect.”


To download the images of the stamps, visit the following dropbox link:


The Troy Cultural Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit umbrella organization for Troy-based arts and cultural organizations with a mission to promote Troy as a cultural destination. The Alliance is supported by annual membership dues as well as funding from grants and business sponsorships. Its current member institutions include: The Arts Center of the Capital Region; Chapel + Cultural Center at RPI; Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company; EMPAC; Friends of Chamber Music; Rensselaer County Historical Society; Hudson Valley Community College; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Russell Sage College; The Sanctuary for Independent Media; Troy Civic Theatre; Hudson-Mohawk Industrial Gateway/Burden Ironworks Museum; Troy Public Library and Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.

The TCA also provides the opportunity for businesses and other non-profits to join as non-voting members. The Alliance will work in concert with the Troy Business Improvement District (BID), the Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce, Rensselaer County Tourism and City of Troy.


For information about the Troy Cultural Alliance, visit:

Featured Events


Jon Elbaum, 518-795-0934,


Saturday, April 23rd

1 P.M. – 4 P.M.

TVCOG Kitchen and Lounge

It’s bottling time!
Over the past 20 years, the homebrew revolution has completely changed the course of beer
drinking in America. Where once a small number of nearly identical beers of very simple, light
character dominated, now drinkers have literally thousands of choices with a wide range of flavors,
textures and recipes.
Homebrewing is an exciting hobby that can range from simple and inexpensive
to wildly complex and capital intensive. Recipes can be bought pre-packaged, as raw materials, or
anywhere in between. Beer is now something *anyone* can hack, and members of the Tech Valley Center Of Gravity have expressed strong interest in joining the homebrew movement.
This Pod will is an informal gathering open to everyone from neophyte to brewmaster, where we can talk, learn, brew, and sample together. This time, we’ll be bottling what we brewed last time, after cleaning and sterilizing our inventory! It is a free event, but donations to the cause are always welcome!

Gather for co-writing with the Tech Valley Center of Gravity Writers’ Group. Brown bag a dinner and bring your writing tool(s) of choice and a project on which to focus. All genres and platforms welcome. Electrical outlets, hot beverages, water and a snack provided. (Feel free to brown bag any other beverage you enjoy while writing.)

6:00-6:25 – dinner, settling in and socializing (optional)
6:30-8:25 – co-writing (no conversation)
8:30-9:00 – sharing session (optional: stay to the end or leave by 8:25)

Bring other writers with you! Quiet co-writing time is the priority. As the group takes shape, we may choose to add a speaker or writing activity, which will be announced in advance.
TVCOG and TVGS members: free. Non-member writers: $5 at the door.

RSVP Rhonda Rosenheck, or

The Dept of Energy Science Bowl is coming up on Saturday, March 5th, at GE Global Research Center over in Niskayuna. We participate with several tables of project displays and information about the TVCOG, and we are looking for volunteers to help staff the tables and show off cool stuff! Our portion of the event is from 10:30am – 1:30pm (basically wrapping around the lunch break), and is usually PACKED with enthusiastic kids, teachers, coaches and parents. Previous years have been a great success thanks to many volunteers to help spread the load, and we need YOUR help to make this year a great success!

If you can come spend a few hours, answer questions, talk about the TVCOG and (even better) show off a cool project, please contact Tom Tongue ( by Tues, March 1st so we can get your name on the access list!

There is a great thread on the Discourse forum that was started by Dan Falkenstrom regarding modifying the role of volunteers in the space, check it out at:

The executive team had a meeting this past week to discuss the items that were in the original post in addition to the other ideas presented here. What we came up with as an action plan is the following:

(1) Inventory of member skills, especially the volunteers. There will be a separate, more easily accessible calendar that shows the open hours, who is staffing them, and the skills they can share. A survey will be going out in the next week soliciting this information from members. It’s mandatory for volunteers, it is optional for everyone else.

(2) Open / Closed / Volunteer on duty sign will be created to handle walk-ins and let them know what is going on. Brochures will also be put into the vestibule to provide information when there is no one available.

(3) Some sort of “I’m the volunteer on duty” indicator will be created. This needs to be a clear indicator that is also safe for use around the space and around equipment – IE: no lanyards!

(4) We’re creating online videos for safety training, and some of the major high-usage pieces of equipment. We need people to help with this. Please send me a message and I will coordinate this. The goal is to make the intake process more automated and continuous, and to provide ongoing access to up-to-date materials.

What we’re not actively working on at the moment is erasing the distinction between Full members and Super users from a scheduling perspective. I don’t actually think this was part of the original proposal, but I think it may have been interpreted this way by some. Full members have restricted hours, and super users have 24/7 access. This is simply matching value to cost. It’s far more valuable to have 24/7 access to the space, and therefore it should cost more. We now have open hours on every day except Wednesday, and in the most common times when people would want to use the space. So I think the full membership is a tremendous value. We are currently considering eliminating the requirement to have a volunteer on staff in order for the space to be open. There are some concerns there, and we thought the items above would have the most impact right now in terms of member experience. The truth is that ALL of our volunteer slots for November are staffed, so at the moment this is a low-impact issue.

Thank you everyone for your feedback and advice, you’ve helped make the TVCOG even better!

All the best,


So many people are talking about our new space in the news!

Here’s what we’ve got so far, and you can follow along on our facebook page too. All these images are courtesy of Heather Otis.

We will be broadcasting the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony over Ustream.
Wanna see the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, along with interviews with our makers?
Tune in here Wednesday 8/19 at 4pm to watch!

Live streaming video by Ustream

Live streaming video by Ustream

If you missed it, there was a great article in the Sunday Times Union on the TVCOG move to the Quackenbush building and all the exciting high tech companies that are filling the rest of the building! Check it out online !


It’s nearly the moment that we’ve all been waiting for… the move to the Quackenbush! SAVE THE DATE: The ribbon cutting is set for Wednesday, August 19th at 4:30pm, and we have an impressive list of guests from the public and private sector coming to celebrate the opening of the TVCOG in the new facility! Which means we have less than three weeks to prepare for the big day, including planning key elements of the move so we can dress to impress! It’s a great chance for us to make the whole Capital District (and beyond!) aware of the Tech Valley Center of Gravity and all we hope to achieve in the future. To make it the best possible event, full of inspiration and wonder, we need YOU!



Clearly there is quite a bit to do, and Jordan Munn (Secretary of the TVCOG and all around awesome member) is coordinating the move effort. She has led a few meetings already to organize our approach to the move, and now we need members to step up and volunteer to assist us in moving and setting up the following zones in the new building:


  • Wood Shop
  • Metal Shop
  • Welding
  • 3D Printer Zone
  • CAD Stations
  • Laser Cutter Zone
  • Electronics Zone
  • Fiber and Crafts Zone
  • THINQubator
  • Community Room & Board Room
  • Lounge Areas
  • Stock Room
  • Member Storage
  • Co-working Zone



We’re looking for zone leaders for each of the above areas and volunteers to help those leaders make it happen. Please contact Jordan Munn ( to let her know which zones you’d be willing to work in (or lead!), and please let her know ASAP!

This coming Tuesday, Bridget McGivern will be hosting the social night, and together with Jordan, we will be forming the teams and starting the process of tagging equipment and items that need to move from the existing space to the new space, and what zone they are going to. Part of this process will also be tagging items that are NOT going over to the Quackenbush, as part of a general purge of stuff so that we’re not swimming in junk in our shiny new space. That includes members HALF FINISHED PROJECTS. So… if you have a project that has been lingering for more than a few days in the TVCOG outside of your designated cubby (or innovation space), you’ve got two weeks to finish the project! We’re not going to be providing housing for projects in the general floorplan anymore because now we have….
MORE INNOVATION SPACES! Yes, that’s right, your project doesn’t get tossed out into the street, but it needs to find a home in one of the innovation spaces we have allocated in the new building, or you need to purchase a parking pass for your project on one of the worktables. Innovation spaces are 48 sq ft in size, and cost $100/month to rent above any membership fees. These spaces are not secured in any way, they’re literally a 6′ x 8′ space for you to put a desk, worktable or whatever (subject to the be-excellent rule). There aren’t an unlimited number of these spaces, so please contact Tom Tongue ( or Bob Bownes ( to make a reservation.
What if you don’t need a full-blown innovation space? You can get a parking pass for $25 to occupy a 4’x4′ space on a worktable for up to 1 week. This can be a great option when you need to leave a project out while you’re working on it, but insures that the space does not become cluttered again with unfinished projects that have no pressure to reach completion. Items without parking passes will be ticketed and towed after 48 hours.
Ok, enough about the innovation spaces and parking passes. Back to the GOOD STUFF: Quackenbush move! Please join us this coming Tuesday for social night to discuss the process of the move, and to help coordinate the zone moves. PLEASE ALSO JOIN US FOR THE NEXT GENERAL MEETING ON AUGUST 8th at 6:30pm! More move information and coordination and opportunities to MAKE STUFF that will go into the new building (more on that in a separate e-mail).
One last ask (for now): We really need to fill our calendar with the exciting variety that will attract a diverse membership to the TVCOG. We’ve got a shiny new community room that is perfect for classes and workshops! If you’ve taught a class in the past, or would like to now, please contact Kathy Ceceri ( or fill out an event submission at
After the August 19th ribbon cutting, the community room will be available for events, and the first one is already schedule:  3D Printing Syndicate of Albany on Aug 20th from 6pm – 9pm!

More progress on the interim site. GOOD NEWS: The wiki made the move to the internal servers after a bit of beating, cajoling and upgrading. This is pretty important since it’s where we keep the bylaws, machine information, etc. I’ll be adding a main link back over to the wiki momentarily.

Also: Happy Fourth of July!