Community – what does this concept mean to you? We think about this question every day at SXSW Interactive, as community forms the core of what we do.
To us, community means many many things. It means community-generated ideas via the SXSW PanelPicker, non-profit-focused programming sessions, The Dewey Winburne Community Service Awards, the SXSW Community Fund, the Scholarship Program.
Most of all, community means that we can't make March in Austin utterly amazing without you. The only requirement for your involvement is creativity!
A Diverse Community is a Strong Community
Strength of community also comes from diversity of thought, gender, geography, and background. We strive to achieve this goal community-centric goal by utilizing a V-O-W-E-L scale of basic diversity principles:
Variety – SXSW always aims to bring in new speakers with new ideas (as opposed to simply showcasing the same speakers who make the tech conference rounds).
Opinion – SXSW highlights a variety of opinions on tech-related matters, even if we sometimes don't agree with the given opinion.
Women – SXSW strongly believes in featuring the accomplishments of the many strong female voices in the tech industry.
Ethnicity – In addition to featuring more female speakers, SXSW also strongly believes in featuring speakers of various different ethnicities.
Location – SXSW is also committed to speakers and panels that raise awareness about tech innovation outside of the US.
These V-O-W-E-L principles are integral to decision-making in the PanelPicker and are visibly reflected during the March event where diversity is abundant.
To be clear, our commitment to diversity is a commitment to a smarter community – different kinds of people bring different ways of thinking to the table. Hearing these different ways of thinking help make everyone smarter.
The SXSW Community Fund
In 2012, SXSW established the SXSW Community Fund through Communities Foundation of Texas. The SXSW Community Fund currently supports several local and national organizations as well as awarding grants to the winners of the Dewey Winburne Community Service Awards and the Grulke Prize each March in Austin, Texas.