On Friday, Mar. 8, South by Southwest will host a party to kick off its annual Interactive Festival, promising a much-needed set of discussions about the pressing issues and potential solutions facing the world today.
Story by Zoya Zia
From Mar. 8-17, the Interactive Festival will provide opportunities for festival-goers to meet each other and form networks as they discuss wide-ranging problems in society, from technology to social accountability and more. Panelists from around the world are headed to Austin to share their expertise and knowledge, ensuring that the festival will be entertaining and valuable to all those involved.
Like in previous years, the Interactive Festival is organized in tracks to address a range of topics that will interest commerce-savvy attendees. These tracks include brands and marketing, future workplace, design, health and medtech, style and retail and more. Each year, new technologies are introduced and showcased at South by Southwest, changing the conversation around these topics over time.
However, festival-goers will also have the opportunity to attend different events in convergence tracks that bring Interactive, Music and Film Festivals together. Convergence topics are related to issues that affect students at the University of Texas at Austin, as the younger generation will face the impact of climate change, political instability and social inequality. The topics are broad enough to encourage a range of conversations, but they are focused enough to follow along to underlying themes like social and global impact, media and journalism, sports and more.
This year’s Interactive Festival also offers a space for attendees to address their strengths and weaknesses as members within different communities. In particular, more events seek to spread awareness about mental health and uplift historically underrepresented or marginalized groups of people. For example, “Advancing Mental Wellbeing in Communities of Color” is a panel on Mar. 11 that features different speakers with experience on the topic. A direct, honest discussion about the experiences and needs among communities of color will be led by Lauren Carson of Black Girls Smile, Shanti Das of Silence the Shame, Nadia Richardson of No More Martyrs along with Dr. David Riviera of the Steve Fund.
The Interactive Festival will put a spotlight on change-makers in the world through panels, Q&A and mentorship sessions and meet-ups. There are fundamental steps to solving global issues that many are undertaking. As festival-goers seek to understand and improve the world in the best way they can, South by Southwest will encourage them to learn lessons within a privileged space and practically apply these lessons to make a difference in their communities.