I attended Mobile Tech 4 Social Change in New York back in February. It was a bit of a trek from Halifax, Nova Scotia but Jacob Colker (co-founder of The Extraordinaries) convinced me it was good opportunity to meet like-minded people interested in using mobile technologies for social good. Jacob was right, I was absolutely blown away by the incredible people devoting their lives to helping make the world a better place. I was so inspired by the event, I decided to organize the same event in Halifax.
So with help from Katrin Verclas (founder of Mobile Active) and my friend Jon Reid, I began organizing Mobile Tech 4 Social Change Halifax. Step one, pick a date: Saturday, May 23rd, done. Step two, find a venue: recently becoming a member of The Hub Halifax, I realized it was the perfect venue for the event because they share the same core principle; bring smart people together, facilitate their conversation and good stuff will happen. The founder; Joanne Macrae, Tracy Boyer Morris, Sera Thompson and Rob MacArthur have turned The Hub into more than just a shared working space for freelancers, but into the heart of the community. The people from Halifax know when you walk into The Hub, you are always greeted with a smile.
In the spirit of Field of Dreams ‘if you build it, they will come’, I began promoting the event. With M4ChangeNY and M4ChangeDC selling out in one day, I assumed the same would happen in Halifax, this however has not been the case. It definitely has taken more foot work to promote the event than the American counterparts. This is also why the event is so important because it is the first of it’s kind in Halifax.
Halifax is obviously a smaller centre than New York or DC so it doesn’t have as large of a non-profit tech community, but Halifax does have a lot of great non-profits and also a large number of software developers. However, I believe there is a great divide between these two communities. On the one side, you have incredible non-profits like Stepping Stone, a charitable not for profit organization that offers support programs for sex workers. Their work plays a vital role in improving the lives of these street workers. On the other side, you have tech-savvy companies like Colour.ca and SocialMedia404, experts in social media and internet marketing. You can’t get more leading edge than these guys, they understand social media and know how to apply it.
The Challenge: A down turn economy where non-profits are struggling to fund their causes. As I discovered at a recent FOCO meeting, many of these charities have been receiving the same level of government funding for past 15 years. With increased demand for their services but with a limited fixed budget, they are forced to choose between cutting services or cutting staff.
The Opportunity: Social media and mobile technologies can be used to fundraise, organize and advocate to provide better health, environment, human rights, citizen journalism and other social services.
The Goal: Bring together the non-profit and tech communities to share knowledge, ask interesting questions and spark ideas. The non-profit community has valuable knowledge from years of field experience, and the tech community has know-how on applying these new technologies. In the spirit of The Hub, my hopes are to bring smart people together, facilitate their conversation and good stuff will happen.
The Event: M4ChangeHFX is open dialog barcamp where attendees are active participants. Although ad-hoc sessions will form that day, we already have a number of great planned sessions:
- Jacob Colker of The Extraordinaries – The Future Of Mobile Crowdsourcing And Volunteerism
- John Sheridan of SocialMedia404 – Integrating Mobile into Your Non-Profit Organization
- Dan Robichaud of C@P – Using Geo-Data To Improve Our Communities
- Joel Kelly of Colour.ca – Using Social Media To Engage Activism For Your Organization
- Ryan Deschamps – Who Really Needs Mobile? User Needs, Mobile Markets, and Industry Response
- Giles Crouch of Norex – How Twitter Can Be Used To Mobilize A Group Of Supporters
- Jeff White of BrightWhite – Mobile Design, Less Means More
With social good in mind, the proceeds from tickets will be donated to a local charity decided by the event attendees. So at the end of the day, it’s a great opportunity to discuss ways to improve our city and help a local charity in the process, a win-win situation.
For more information, visit the website http://barcamp.org/MobileTechForSocialChangeHalifax or follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/m4changehfx.
Special thanks to The Hub (especially Tracy and Joanne), who have played an absolute vital role in helping promote the event, it would not be possible without their great support.
Interested how mobile technologies are being used to change the world? Checkout MobileActive.org, an incredible source of information about social change through mobile technologies.