Connecting Present and Future at SXSW 2017 Interactive Festival

Every year, the South By Southwest Interactive Festival hosts events that bring out a diverse audience. The purpose of these events is to provide a glimpse into the issues of the future while recognizing current events and trends. From sexism in the workplace to climate change, several topics will take the stage at the Interactive Festival starting on Friday, March 10.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Story by Zoya Zia

Based on the schedule on the first day, attendees can expect to hear from various speakers and explore different fields. These initial experiences will set the tone for the rest of the festival. ORANGE has previewed the following sessions to showcase the variety of voices that will be heard from the get-go.


Global Muslim Startup Ecosystem Emerges

Time: 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Track: Tech Industry

Four speakers will engage in a panel discussion about the development of a global culture that connects diverse Muslim communities. Through social media and technology, hundreds of millions of young Muslims are becoming consumers in a world market. How they choose to spend their money is indicative of how they validate their identities in a world with rising anti-Muslim sentiment.

The speakers at this panel include Abrar Hussain, managing director of Elixir Capital, Shazia Saleem, CEO and founder of ieat foods, Chris Blauvelt, CEO and founder of LaunchGood and Shahed Amanullah, co-founder of Affinis Labs.


Women’s Representation: Five Steps to Win Gender Parity

Time: 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Track: Government

In this event, four panelists will discuss the current representation of women holding political office in the United States and around the world. The audience can expect to hear that this representation is abysmal and disproportionate to the number of women in the population. After describing ongoing issues, the panelists will shift to the future and consider strategies for reform.

The speakers at this event include Abby Livingston, reporter at The Texas Tribune, Cynthia Richie Terrell, director of Representation2020, Gwen Young, director of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and Wendy Davis, former Texas state senator and founder of Deeds Not Words.


Innovation in Cuba: The Rise of Azúcar Valley - 3:30 p.m.

Time: 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Track: Tech Industry

With three experienced speakers, this panel will provide insight on the evolving business relations between the United States and Cuba. The innovation program Incúbate was formed after a group of American entrepreneurs met with Cuban innovators to share common strengths and weaknesses. Three Incúbate workshops have already promoted a flow of information and communication.

The speakers at this panel include Mara Abrams, founder of Incúbate and managing director of Census Labs, Marcelino Alvarez, founder and CEO of Uncorked Studios and co-founder of Incúbate and Nick Parish, an award-winning writer.


One Nation Under Stress: How Social Connection Can Heal Us

Time: 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Track: Health

For many, this featured session could not come at a more appropriate time. Amid the widespread uncertainty surrounding the new administration at the White House, communities face higher levels of stress. Normal stress is distinct from chronic stress, which negatively impacts health. Although fear of the future can be disabling, finding ways to promote emotional well-being make a difference. One mechanism for doing so is forging social connections.

The speaker at this event is Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the 19th U.S. Surgeon General, doctor and tech entrepreneur.