The Journey to the Inclusive Innovation Summit 2019 (Part 1)
Blaze a Trail: A New Format
A month ago, we announced the return of our flagship event, but with one major difference; Inclusive Innovation Week would return in 2019 as a three day Summit. This decision was not easy, as one of the hallmarks of Inclusive Innovation Week was to have accessible events across the city. However, we have gotten feedback from partners about the challenges of our previous format. We’ve listened, and have decided to try something different this year.
On October 24th, we hosted a Meetup to discuss this new direction at the Brew House Association (BHA). If you have never been before, the BHA is a place that fosters collaboration. Where code writers mix with sculptors. Where artists evolve into entrepreneurs. It was the perfect launch point for this journey.
The morning started early with networking amongst a great turnout of partners who enjoyed coffee and breakfast KIND bars, provided by New Sun Rising. This led into our presentation, where we started by introducing two new team members, Itha Cao and Tara Matthews, followed by a passionate charge from Scott Wolovich, the Executive Director of New Sun Rising.
Since this year’s event will be shorter, from March 28–30, we covered what else to expect with the new format. For instance, all day programs will happen at a Downtown-campus alongside the Boulevard of the Allies. We haven’t yet announced the locations, but this is the logic behind the campus-structure, and the benefits:
- Make it easier for partners to participate. Our team will manage logistics and marketing so partners can focus on programming and connecting with other organizations.
- Increase inclusion. Continue to provide free programs, childcare support and accessible spaces, but go a step step further and subsidize transportation. Downtown is a key transportation hub.
- Expand networks. Create more opportunities for partners and attendees to meet new people and diversify their network. Direct feedback our team received from partners last year.
At night, we plan to host one event on Thursday and Friday, outside Downtown. On Saturday afternoon, the Summit will conclude with a closing event, either Downtown or somewhere nearby. With this new format, the intent is to create a relaxing environment fun for people to connect meaningfully with new people. By shortening the overall event length and the physical distance between programs, we believe this achievable.
The second important item we covered is the timeline moving forward. Tara Matthews writes in more detail about this in her blog (link below), specifically about the Proposal Process. I’m going to touch on the high level stuff, starting with the following checkpoints:
- Inclusive Innovation Meetups. In December and early January, we will organize Human-Centered Workshops, through our Meetup, around important themes we heard from the community on October 24th. These Meetups are designed to build capacity for new partnerships and event ideas leading up to the Summit.
- Request for Proposals. Given the new format, we cannot support all the programs we had in previous years. At the Meetup, we encouraged partners to cross-pollinate ideas on joint proposals. Submissions are due by January 31st. We will not accept any proposals past this date.
- Launch the online application. December 1st will be the first day partners can submit their proposals. The online form will be available on our website: weinnovatepgh.net
- Announce the proposals accepted into the Summit. On February 14th, we won’t be sending Valentine’s cards, but we will notify partners whether their proposal has been accepted (or not) into the Summit. We will include additional information pertaining to next steps.
Finally, the last big announcement we made at October’s Meetup: a new partnership with Public Allies. This year, we are collaborating with their Executive Allies, individuals returning for a second year of public service and taking on greater leadership roles at their placements around Pittsburgh.
This year’s Executive Allies are: Lainey Yockey, Nacole Hough, Kyle Spangler and Frank Kamara. The Executive Allies will sherpa the Inclusive Innovation Meetups in December and early January. (Sherpas are renowned for their skill in mountaineering and leading expeditions into the Himalayans). The Executive Allies will also manage the volunteer program leading up to the Summit. Shortly will announce these Meetup dates and themes, as well as contact information to reach the Executive Allies.
When we finished our presentation, there was a really good question about whether the inspiration for this event came from other cities who might have done this before us. The truth is Pittsburgh is the first city, as far as we know, to do this kind of event. But even more important, the inspiration comes from our partners! They continue to guide our team and help support building this event into an annual tradition.
The question reminded me of something Kate Dewey said at the UpPrize finale less that a month ago. She said: “Pittsburgh Makes, the world benefits.” If you were to adapt her quote for the Inclusive Innovation Summit it would say, “Pittsburgh leads, the world follows.”