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Adventuring, Bay Area, West Coast Best Coast

All Together Now; or How I Came to Hate the Zoning Laws

You know an event is off to an auspicious start when your first thought is, “Oh shit I have to mingle?” followed very closely by “It’s okay I get a free beer!”

Last week, I went to All Together Now: Technology and Social Responsibility, a Tech Panel hosted by The Bold Italic. Like any good tech event, it of course started with drinks and networking which is something I always dread and then five minutes in realize isn’t all that bad. The event was held at Public Works, a really neat space near 14th and Mission.

Full disclosure right now: There were so many things and so many complexities/problematic aspects of certain things said that I honestly don’t have the bandwidth in one post for too much analysis. I’m trying to jot things down before I forget, and this should be more of a general overview of some of the main points. It’s going to involve a lot of self-Tweet embedding but those were the easiest ones for me to locate/follow, so I apologize if it’s a bit self-aggrandizing.

The panel itself started at about 7pm. It featured four panelists – Dan Parham, Co-Founder of Neighborland; Marnie Webb, CEO of Caravan Studios; Kyle Stewart, Executive Director of ReAllocate; and Rutul Dave, Co-Founder of Bright Funds – and was moderated by TechCrunch journalist Josh Constine.

The evening started off well:

It was, the moderator framed, an evening to discuss solutions. Not problems. To which the audience gave a delighted to cheer. And then the moderator decided to frame everything with a problem.

 

(Yeah, the comment disparaging those who want to protect the skyline was not met with much support.) Not that others didn’t chime in with excellent commentary on the issue:

 

Unfortunately, much of the night ended up being about Josh Constine’s perspective on housing being the main issue facing San Francisco and integrating very little in the way of tech and social good.

Afterwards, Josh did acknowledge the criticisms

This all being said, I think a few interesting points did come out of the talk.

Living in San Francisco is like dating a supermodel – short-term.

One of the earliest, and most popular, quotes came from Rutul, who compared living in San Francisco to dating a supermodel in that it’s something you like to brag about, but it isn’t something you see as permanent. It becomes problematic, however, because then you don’t see the need to invest in problems.

Only 7% of the workers are in tech; 12% are in finance.

Dan Parham rattled off this figure (to be confirmed…), followed by this observation:

I don’t like the term philanthropy.

Another from Rutul, who was commenting on the traditional form of nonprofit.

This sparked a marvelous response from Marnie Webb:

 

She argued that a group like the Ford Foundation or the Gates Foundation might have an eye to the long haul that a smaller social enterprise might not be able to focus on, and that these large foundations still do have a place in the nonprofit sector. Essentially, we need to have a portfolio of different types of nonprofits and socially minded organizations in order to achieve any lasting change.

Technology as a tool: We need to collect the Hail Mary’s

 

And later:

It’s not a hackathon.

I particularly liked this one because it meant I got to have a twitter convo with someone else at the event:

And many more.

Like I said, this is a quick summary of some of the main takeaways I got from the night. You can check out more on my Twitter feed or by searching #techpanel. I recommend doing the second one, so you get the benefit of seeing things other people found important, as to opposed to just me!

 

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