On August 20-21, the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication’s (SOJC) Agora Journalism Center is partnering with TechFestNW (TFNW) to facilitate a community conversation about how civic technology can help solve some of Portland’s thorniest civic challenges.
Building on the idea that the people closest to a problem are best equipped to engineer its solution, the collaboration will create a space for Portlanders of all stripes to propose ideas and share perspectives on a range of tech-related challenges, from improving workplace diversity at tech companies to using technology for emergency preparedness.
Here’s how it will work: Across two days at Portland’s Revolution Hall, the Agora Journalism Center will join four of the TFNW’s featured tech-sector leaders and thinkers for conversations pegged to their big ideas. Using the hashtag, members of the #WeAllWinPDX design team will follow up each presentation with a thought-provoking question — and then step back to let attendees steer the discussion on social media. Responses will be curated for a Twitter-wall display at the event’s Exhibition Fair.
“The social media hashtag will help us shift from presentations to conversations,” says Andrew DeVigal, SOJC chair of journalism innovation and civic engagement. “Each of the speakers brings outstanding expertise, but we also want to capture and amplify the expertise of the people in the audience and in our community.”
As an extension to the #WeAllWinPDX campaign, a second civic engagement project will aim to spur meaningful action around issues raised at the conference, while also helping the tech industry make progress on its recent “diversity pledge”.
In June, more than a dozen prominent Portland tech leaders signed a pledge to actively promote diversity within their companies. During TFNW, the Agora Journalism Center will help them follow through on that commitment, using its social media presence and community networks to identify local tech-industry mentors and then match them with youth mentees from existing and influential civic tech programs in Portland’s communities of color.
Each team will be tasked with tackling one of the civic-tech challenges that emerged from the presentations, panel discussions, and social-media conversations at TFNW. For the following 12 months, the industry mentors and youth participants will work together to design and guide a project with real-world impact. This is a natural extension of the data build-a-thon that the Agora Journalism Center collaborated on with Hack Oregon.
“This collaboration is a chance to apply the tools of journalism to an initiative with much broader scope,” DeVigal says. “By working with our partners in the industry and the community, we can help push the needle on projects that make a difference in our city.”
For more information about #WeAllWinPDX — or to learn how you can get involved with the youth mentorship program — please contact Erika Vogt (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Story by Ben DeJarnette ’15