Top 5 Community Activist Sessions
Top tech companies, start-ups and venture capitalists are not the only forward-thinkers attending the upcoming South By Southwest Interactive conference this year. The Community and Activism programming tract features leaders across the tech spectrum, including business heavyweights, nonprofit innovators, social entrepreneurs and hackers with hearts of gold, all coming together to talk about how to make a difference. Want to get in on the fun? Here are the top picks for community activists at SXSWi.
1) Make Me Care: Digital Storytelling to Affect Change
Saturday, March 9, 2013, 12:30-1:30 at the Austin Convention Center
Storytelling is a powerful tool for nonprofits to motivate donors, mobilize volunteers, and rally stakeholders around social issues. The advent of digital media has lowered the cost and technical barriers that once prevented individuals from sharing their story with the wider community.
Community activists could have no better instructor in storytelling than veteran journalist Michele Norris, host of NPR’s All Things Considered. Michele was inspired by her own experiences to start The Race Card Project, a multimedia interactive project that invites discourse on race. Along with panelists Joel R. Johnson, David Modigliani & Susan Feeney, Michele will discuss how storytelling can be used as a tool of empowerment.
LEARN MORE: Michele Norris’s The Race Card Project
2) Information Literacy in an Online World
Sunday, March 10, 2013, 11:30-12:30 p.m
The Internet is great, right? From Googling your persistent questions, to photographing every aspect of your life, it is a well-accepted fact that the Internet has permanently changed media consumption forever. However, unlimited information delivered in a fraction of a second can have consequences. For the uninitiated, surfing the web can be as daunting as drinking water from a firehose.
Moreover, as more information becomes web based, some groups are left on the wrong side of the digital divide. Enter Information Literacy. Led by “radical librarian” Laura Larsell, this panel will look at what can be done to advance access for everyone.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Some of the most innovative hackers of communication technology and jailbreakers of consumer electronics aren’t who you would expect. Digital Outcasts are people who, as speaker Kel Smith will discuss, individuals who are caught on the wrong side of the digital divide. Whether because of socio-economic reasons or because they live with a disability or health issue, digital outcasts exist on the periphery of mainstream consumer technologies.
While cost and access remain barriers, these challenges have also presented opportunities for enterprising digital outcasts to develop “grassroots” innovations to adapt technologies for themselves and their communities. Kel will discuss what challenges different communities face and how they overcome them with incredible ingenuity and creativity.
4) Indigenous Tweets, Visible Voices & Technology
Saturday March 9, 2013, 11-12 p.m.
Communication technology is at its best when it provides a forum for individuals and communities that have been historically silenced or excluded. There is no better example of this than in the work of HablaCentro, an innovative organization that brings new media to empower citizens journalists based in Guatemala.
As if empowering everyday people to take control of their own community’s narrative wasn’t enough, HablaCentro’s founder Kara Andrade is working to help bring together new media to preserve indigenous languages. At this panel, you will hear how they are bringing web 2.0 tools to rural communities in Latin America to help speakers of indigenous languages use the Internet for cultural preservation.
LEARN MORE: HablaCentro’s website.
5) How to Make the Internet Care
Sunday March 10, 2013, 5-6 p.m.
Making people care about social issues and feel inspired to get involved is the number one challenge occupying nonprofit organizations. So much that, there is an entire industry for nonprofits and NGOs centered around developing supporters. In a landscape where there are literally millions of nonprofit organizations rallying around thousands of issues, how can a group break through the noise to create real change? How does an organization explain complex issues to diverse audiences in a way that inspires action?
The masters of making people care are amongst the top communicators and storytellers in journalism and nonprofit communities, including Change.org, The Enough Project, CNN, and the Tampa Bay Times. With issues as complicated as sex trafficking and genocide, these panelists will share how they leveraged communication tools, digital storytelling, and more to get Internet users to get involved. Panelists will share their experience of what works (and more importantly, what doesn’t) when communicating at “the intersection of news and advocacy.”
LEARN MORE: Change.org.
If you have time and feel like rolling up your sleeves and getting involved now, there are several meet-ups during SXSWi that will provide you that opportunity.
Marketing for Nonprofits: Marketing is an essential function for nonprofit and non-governmental organizations. Its more than just fundraising, but connecting with stakeholders and raising awareness of community issues. This meetup will bring marketing newbies and pros together to share tips & network.
Online Activism Meetup: Activists come in all shapes and skill levels. Hit up this meetup to meet other hackers with hearts of gold, learn how they use the Internet for good, and the best way to make a difference for your issues.
SXSW ECO Meetup: For all the environmentally minded techies out there, the SXSW ECO meetup will give you a chance to chat with like minded conference attendees about all the ways technology and sustainability intersect.
Accessibility Meetup: The persistent challenge for all techies is to figure out how to ensure access to all communities. The Accessibility Meetup brings together individuals who are fighting to tear down the digital divide, in every way in manifests itself.