It started as a question — where is black tech in Pittsburgh? — and plans for a small group conversation at Inclusive Innovation Week 2017. Then, it grew to a conversation of 80 people and the creation of Black Tech Nation.
And this year, the sequel to that event — Here is Black Tech in Pittsburgh! — is on the roster of 65 events at the 2018 Inclusive Innovation Week, which begins on Monday.
In everyday life, people are in the bubble of their own experiences, but Inclusive Innovation Week is a chance for everyone to say: “I’m aware of other experiences,” said Kelauni Cook, a software developer and founder of Black Tech Nation.
A partnership between the city and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, this is the third year for Inclusive Innovation Week, which includes events from panels to a dance party, all dedicated to access.
There’s a buzz around the events this year, and it seems like more people are familiar with the week, said Christine Marty, a civic innovation specialist within the city’s department of innovation & performance and an organizer of the week. That buzz is due, in part, to feedback from 2017.
Attendees wanted to work on inclusive innovation all year, so organizers created a series of meet-ups that gave people the opportunity to meet others and work collaboratively on events for this year, Marty said. Of the 65 events this year, 17 came out of those meet-ups.
It also became clear what categories where missing from past years, such as events for the disability community and for youth, she said.
To plan your Inclusive Innovation Week, use this calendar, which you can print or merge with iCal or Google calendar.
All events are free, but some require an additional RSVP and some are limited due to space, so make sure to read the descriptions. Flexable is also gauging interest for childcare throughout the week, so go here to sign up and learn more.
Here’s a look at seven of the can’t-miss events:
5 -7 p.m., Monday, April 2
BNY Mellon Innovation Center, 12th Floor, 500 Grant St. (Downtown)
The kickoff to the week, “Tackling the World’s Wicked Problems: A Celebration of Social Innovation Champions” includes innovators from across the city and elected officials and serves as the official launch for CSforPgh.
Led by Remake Learning, CSforPgh is a regional coalition focused on computer science literacy for K-12 students.
It’s not about creating more computer scientists but rather improving the pipeline and access to that education, especially during the school day, said LaTrenda Leonard Sherrill, the computer science and STEM lead for Remake Learning.
While there have been many successes and there are multiple computer science programs outside of the school day, the coalition is focused on leveling the playing field by having more opportunities for computer science education during the school day when all students have access.
Sherrill said CSforPgh has brought together stakeholders including teachers, coders, policy makers, funders and universities, the coalition is looking to grow. Monday’s event is a way to spread the word to get more people involved, she said.
6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, April 3
1 Hood Media, 460 Melwood Ave. Suite 207 (North Oakland)
A returning event from last year, it’s only more relevant now, said Jasiri X, CEO of 1 Hood Media. Just look at March for Our Lives or the Women’s March or the #MeToo movement, he said.
As a hip hop artist, Jasiri X said his career has been at the intersection of art, tech and social justice. And it’s social media that’s allowed him to be a part of movements in other parts of the country and connect with his fan base.
And art plays a big role in social justice, he said, adding that it can be anything from musicians to memes to the signs that marchers carry — and social media can spread that art.
Expect an interactive presentation, including a look at multiple social justice movements, some recent and some not so much, Jasiri X said.
6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, April 3
Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science, 5000 Forbes Ave. (Squirrel Hill North)
As the sequel to last year’s event, this event is about turning conversation into listening, Cook said.
Last year’s event came at a time when people wanted to talk about black tech in Pittsburgh, and a year later, the conversation has continued, she said. But now is time to stop talking and really listen to real experiences for deeper conversation.
So this year, the event is twofold. First, Cook will moderate a panel to hear those very experiences from three minority entrepreneurs — Adhithi Aji, Jim Gibbs and Patrick Paul. But there will also be audience participation where attendees can answer questions by holding up red or green paddles to indicate their experience.
After the panel is a fireside chat between Cook and venture capitalist Phil Bronner, a CMU alumnus. They’ll talk about why such a small percentage of funding goes to black entrepreneurs.
Expect the event to be uncomfortable, Cook said, adding that if people really want to know the experiences, they should attend.
More: You can also catch Cook as one of the seven speakers during Crypto for the People: Pittsburgh’s 1st Blockchain Mini-Conference from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 7 at Alloy 26, 100 S. Commons Suite 102 (Allegheny Center.) The event is for people will all levels of blockchain knowledge, she said.
2 to 5 p.m., Wednesday, April 4
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, 10 Children’s Way (Allegheny Center)
Just because “children” is in the museum’s name, doesn’t mean it’s just for kids.
Spaces are often designated as for one age group or another, but this event is about attracting people of all ages to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to explore, said Laura Poskin, director of Age-Friendly of Greater Pittsburgh.
Age-Friendly is all about age inclusion and removing the silos between age groups, she said.
This event includes museum excursions, a live youth-hosted webcast from SLB Radio broadcast studios and an art exhibit from Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. Attendees can also craft with materials from Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse and learn about technology helping those with visual impairments from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped.
The goal is to get people to talk to people not in their age group, Poskin said. “In this political climate we start thinking of generation vs. generation, [but] we just find so much value in the dialogue.”
More: You can also hear from Poskin speak about how neighborhoods can be more inclusive to all ages on a panel titled “Codesigning the future of Pittsburgh together” from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 5 at Spaces Bakery Square 6425 Living Place (Shadyside).
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tune into this event live during your lunch break or watch it later whenever you want. This Facebook Live broadcast doubles as a showcase of work in the community and at Point Park University and as a recap of the week.
The three-hour broadcast will be split into six 30-minute segments on the following topics:
- Disability inclusion
- Financial insecurity
- Food insecurity
- Mental illness
- Racial inequality
Each segment will include experts from the community as well as Point Park students who work in the respective areas, said Josh Croup, a Point Park senior and the host of the broadcast. Viewers can ask questions via Facebook, added Allison Schubert, a sophomore who is producing the program with Croup. Both are broadcast journalism students.
Inclusive Innovation Week is all about starting conversations and this is one more way to do that, Croup said.
6 to 9 p.m., Friday, April 6
Nova Place, 100 S Commons (Allegheny Center)
This event, sponsored by Google and presented by several other organizations, is all about kids of all ages and the opportunity to “hang out, mess around and geek out.”
Sean Gray, the Pittsburgh area director for All Star Code, a summer coding intensive for boys of color, said that he hears all the time from people who want to know about programs for girls or for younger students.
So this event is a little something for everyone, he said, adding that there will be computer science activities but also non-tech and music activities. Plus, there will be a showcase of student work.
Working with youth is really exciting, Gray said. “They are really innovative and creative and their projects are inspiring.”
8 to 11 p.m. Saturday, April 7
Ace Hotel Pittsburgh, 120 Whitfield St. (East Liberty)
This is one of the ideas that came out of the meet-ups as a way to bring people together, said Todd Smith, digital community specialist for Pittsburgh Innovation & Performance. Sponsored by Thrival And UPMC, this silent disco is in an accessible venue at the Ace Hotel gym and is open to all.
The DJ will have vibrating floor panels and backpacks so dancers with hearing impairments can feel the music, Smith added.