Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Group Plans Civic Hackathon to Address Social Issues

Posted By on Wed, Aug 1, 2018 at 10:25 AM

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A gathering to generate ideas to address social issues in Memphis is set for this weekend, August 3rd- 4th on the riverfront.


The “civic hackathon” is hosted by the Fourth Bluff, an initiative aiming to revitalize and connect public spaces Downtown.


The two-day event is designed for people to come and share ideas for ways to tackle the various social issues in the city. Shamichael Hallman, the civic engagement coordinator for the Fourth Bluff said he wanted to take the traditional hackathon concept and “put a social-minded spin on it.”


“I often hear people talk about various issues as though they don’t have the power to do anything about it,” Hallman said. “They are waiting to see who else will act, but I’m hoping an event like this will make people think ‘we can actually do something about this.’”


The first day will be an “evening of inspiration and networking,” followed by a “day of ideating and hacking.”


On Friday, over dinner, attendees will hear from a speaker panel comprised of local social entrepreneurs like Tony Knox, founder of Fitnexx, a fitness gaming system and Sarah Petschonek, founder of Volunteer Odyssey, a platform designed to connect people with volunteer opportunities.


For Saturday’s discussion, attendees will break into groups to tackle the focus areas: civic engagement, cultural fragmentation, and chronic homelessness.


This means generating ways to get people involved in the government process, bring people together, and bridge the gap among the city’s homeless population, Hallman said.


After the event, Hallman said the Fourth Bluff will help connect those who want to pursue their ideas to the necessary resources or groups who are involved in similar work.


“We hope this is the first of a set of ongoing events,” Hallman said. “We want relationships to form to create a framework for these events to happen again. It’s an important opportunity to bring together a diverse group of people in public place.”


Bringing people together in public places is one of the goals of the Fourth Bluff, which is a piece of the national Reimagining Civic Commons initiative. Other cities participating in the three-year initiative include Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Akron. In Memphis, the Fourth Bluff project is seeking to empower people to “take back, recapture, and reclaim” public places in order to create spaces that are welcoming to all, Hallman said.


The hackathon here will take place at the Beale Street Landing, beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday and 4 p.m. on Saturday. Everyone is welcomed and it is free to attend.


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