Beyond the Usual, Passive DEI Efforts in Tech

Blog: Joining the Laughing Planet Community Outreach & Digital Team

Manny Becerra as a child

February 2019

I was recently approached by Tim Healion, Chief Community and Brand Officer at Laughing Planet (LP), asking if I would consider joining him on LP's Community Engagement, Outreach and Marketing Team as an advisor. The role would help in various ways, such as:

  • Provide guidance and mentorship to University of Nevada-Reno journalism and media student interns, including some LP staff, on how to level-up their game in the areas of digital product, community outreach and engagement, and
  • Help with general entrepreneurial and business saviness in a way that strengthens the clarity and focus of the group's vision, purpose and reach in Northern Nevada.

In addition to this being a great group to be a part of and aligned with my values, it's also a phenomenal opportunity to cultivate further collaboration between the University and other higher education institutions in Northern Nevada, including the community at-large. Want to get involved?

Tim and Anell
Laughing Planet Reno's Kitchen Manager, Manny
LP Outreach Team - Tim, Lipp and Hannah - with KWNK Community Radio's staff


Since the original post was published (☝🏽), here is some headway the group has been able to accomplish and set its focus on during the first couple of months. The team now has:

  • an updated and branded web presence, that leverages WordPress as the content management system (CMS) with a custom, headless CMS front-end solution that I built for the team with a modern tech stack, such as React, Next.js, Node.js, and Bristlecone (design system).

  • a more clear and concrete, yet flexible-enough, set of pillars to guide the group's decisions and priorities. The three (3) pillars are: sustainability, community, and health and wellness. We work on sustainability to keep the Earth in shape, community to make Earth a better place, and health and wellness to keep this wonderful planet, with all of its vibrant life, healthy! The pillars themselves are based on an empathetic understanding and embrace that the group cannot do its job to the fullest if the group does not approach its work with mindfullness and inclusivity at the core.

  • more clearly identified roles and expectations on how to create effective, on-going and inclusive multimedia content for sharing LP's day-to-day story in concert with the aforementioned pillars and overall vision of the Company

  • a regular PSA and media schedule, and distribution process that include both, the traditional media outlet and grassroots, community-lead efforts

  • strategically planned campaigns that showcase LP's staff's efforts in effectively executing on the company's vision, e.g. the people behind LP, reducing carbon emissions amongst its food distribution process, and more in the pipeline,

  • an officially established, local education and partnership program in which the group identifies a local organization, quarterly, to help raise funds for and promote the organization's work in and around the community. The first partnership is with Urban Roots Garden Classrooms

  • collaborated with the University of Nevada-Reno Core Humanities staff and leadership to host an on-going outreach program called "Thought on Tap"; each month, during the school year, members of the community gather to discuss some topical issues of the day at the Laughing Planet University location. The last panel for the spring semester is May 9th - should be a great one!

  • promoted and hosted the weekly Jazz night and annual Jazz Festival events in partnership with staff and students from the University music department, and community individuals and organizations. Jazz night has great momentum and an appetite by participants to grow into an official Jazz Club for the community

  • partnered with KWNK community radio (97.7FM) in live streaming the weekly jazz night jam sessions ☝🏽 on Wednesdays. See the corresponding blog post announcement for further details

  • received support from additional leadership at the company to further build out this initiative in anticipation of creating a company-wide community and outreach program that other Laughing Planet stores in Washington and Oregon can participate in and look to Reno's team as a model

Want to get involved or learn more?

If you would like to learn more about this initiative, or if you are a student in the Northern Nevada community between the ages of 18 and 25 and would like to get involved in the group as an intern, please connect with me - I would like to get to know you and see where we can get you involved!

Please note that the initiative began with interns from the University of Nevada-Reno, but we are not limiting opportunities solely to UNR journalism students. Students from TMCC and other educational institutions / pathways -- traditional or otherwise -- are welcome and encouraged to participate!


Manny Becerra as a child

I operate from a place of compassion, possibility and imagination. My work and efforts share a common goal: create a better, sustainable and equitable world by building inclusive communities, products & experiences.