As we approach our fifth California Nonprofit Technology Festival, I was curious to know how people's experiences of Tech Fest have evolved. Misty and I recently spoke with a few Tech Fest veterans. Here are some interesting moments from our discussions.
California Pan-Ethnic Health Network
How did you get pulled into Tech Fest?
"I had been to the Sacramento CA Tech Fest, and it was a lot more in line with what we needed in an event, as a social justice organization. Not as a web developer, but as a nonprofit organization.”
Communications and Operations Coordinator
Black Organizing Project
What do you walk away with from Tech Fests?
"It's not so much about 'I learned how to do X, Y, and Z', but about having those [tech] seeds be planted, so that when I encounter something later, I can remember back to hearing about it at Tech Fest, and know the people who could help me. Because building capacity is about the people. You don't just sit in some training. You're not handed some big manual.”
What would you tell someone who's timid about facilitating & sharing their experiences?
“I'd say, nobody's looking to judge. It's an open space, where you can feel okay with admitting what you don't know and what you do know. The space is what you make it. Open up, talk about your challenges.”
City Planner and Developer
You've been to Tech Fest in Coachella, Sacramento, and LA. How are they different? Have they changed?
"The places we're going to are so different. In Sacramento, people were talking about public health. Covered California was coming online, so a lot of folks were focused exclusively on rural health insurance. Which was very different from Coachella, where people were talking about rural poverty, and 'How do we get access our government when we are 60 miles away and don't have any public transit?' And that's sort of a different thing than Los Angeles, where it felt more focused on the historic socioeconomic divide, and overcoming that. I love that it travels, and every one feels different. It always plugs into some different local series of issues."
How would you describe your social experience in the space?
"There's some sort of thing that happens at the very beginning, when you realize that this is actually a safe space—that I can be weird, and it'll be cool. Someone can say that 'my favorite place is the forest moon of Endor', and everyone will love it. And I worry that as people do this for a while, like myself, they start taking it for granted...and be less open and less engaged. I guess what I'm arguing for is to not be afraid of flushing out some of the veterans as we get up in our years. Because I think there's some newness and excitement of finding it for the first time, you're like 'wow this place is amazing' and you're more open and more engaged."
Eventual Tech Festers
What do you hope to get out of CA Tech Fest in Richmond? Who do you hope to meet?
If you've attended before, what did you enjoy? What would you like to see changed?
Share your thoughts! We'd love to hear from you.