The Making of Trees for Cars

How one man living on the streets of New York City hopes to make a difference.

After losing his job and home in 2011, Leo Grand has released an app coded entirely by himself on the streets of New York. In August of last year, 23 year-old professional software designer Patrick McConlogue approached Grand and offered him either $100 or the opportunity to learn computer coding. Grand chose the latter, and for the next four months, he took a series of Codeacademy lessons on a secondhand Samsung Chromebook given to him by McConlogue. McConlogue also gave Grand hour-long lessons every day before work, leaving Grand to read through three JavaScript books and practice coding in-between lessons.

In December, Grand created Trees for Cars. The ridesharing app, inspired by his concern for the environment, offers commuters a way to cut down on their carbon footprint by connecting drivers with local commuters. The driver chooses a meeting point, the app finds nearby riders, and driver and rider are connected if both accept the invitation to carpool. The app also shows how much carbon dioxide the passengers saved, using a competitive gaming element to encourage people to save more. The app is available on iOS and Android platforms for $0.99, and a second edition is currently in development. Grand, who hopes to apply for a job as a programmer, plans to use the proceeds to rent his own apartment and work on further projects.

Photo by Journeyman.

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