Simulations of dense stellar systems currently face two major hurdles, one astrophysical and one computational. The astrophysical problem lies in the fact that several major stages in binary evolution, such as common envelope evolution, are still poorly understood. The best we can do in these cases is to parameterize our ignorance, in a way that is reminiscent of the introduction of a mixing length to describe convection in a single star, or an alpha parameter in modeling an accretion disk. The hope is that by modeling a whole star cluster in great detail, and comparing the results to the wealth of observational data currently available, we will be able to constrain the parameters that capture the unknown physics. The computational problem is one of composition: while we have accurate computer codes for modeling stellar dynamics, stellar hydrodynamics, and stellar evolution, we currently have no good way to put all this knowledge together in a single software environment. A year ago, a loosely-knit organization was founded to address these problems, MODEST for Modeling DEnse STellar systems, with nine working groups and a series of meetings that are held every half year. This report reviews the first year of this initiative. Much more detail can be found on the MODEST web site http://www.manybody.org/modest.html.