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‘Make Tyler Weird’ — Group Wants to Inject Culture into Community

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A group of local tech-savvy volunteers have started a website they hope will encourage Tyler residents to embrace their inner weirdness.

MakeTylerWeird.com compiles a list of local restaurants, bars and businesses in hopes of making Tyler a more unique and cultured community.

The “Make Tyler Weird” initiative stems from Hack Tyler, a site founded by Christopher Groskopf.

Groskopf is a software developer who spent almost two years working on data analysis for the Chicago Tribune. Before moving to Tyler last year, he launched the Hack Tyler site to provide residents with valuable public information they may not know how to find for themselves. The site includes interactive maps that chart racial diversity, home values, police reports and more.

“Make Tyler Weird” focuses more on the cultural aspects of Tyler. Similar concepts have successfully branded cites like Austin and Portland, Oregon as art and entertainment hubs.

Visitors of the site are encouraged to create a free account and contribute to the project’s growing database of local hotspots.

Businesses featured on the site are organized by category, such as breweries, coffee shops or grocery stores. Some of the pages are empty or sparse, but the site’s founders are relying on the community to expand and become more inclusive.

Perhaps the best feature is a city map that shows popular businesses that have been added by contributors.

Once users select a business, they are directed to a page that provides more detailed information. For example, by selecting a restaurant you can find the hours, price range, payment methods, address, phone number and wheelchair accessibility.

Site statistics show the number of users and pages has increased substantially since it launched last month.

If the trend continues, Tyler may soon become a more cultured – and yes, weird – place to be.

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