Social Good Summit Miami: Me + We = Change

Communities / Article

Knight Foundation supports the Social Good Summit Miami, encouraging citizens and civic leaders to have conversations about the future of our community and inspire them to act. Below, Michelle Dow, owner and founder of Social Swag Co., which produced the summit, writes about the origins and impact of the event. Photo credit: Anusha Alikhan.

Last week a group of local community leaders, tech pioneers and grassroots innovators convened to discuss ways South Florida can use digital tools to help solve our greatest challenges.

The Social Good Summit Miami is a local component of a global discussion, centered in New York, addressing ways to solve challenges and make a better world by 2030. The goal is to empower people to use their voice and connect on theses issues, both during the summit and throughout the year.

This journey began four years ago in Brooklyn. One morning while surfing on my laptop I stumbled upon the Social Good Summit via Mashable.com. In 2010 Mashable partnered with the 92 Street Y, a renowned nonprofit cultural and community center in New York, creating an open source platform to encourage collaboration on world issues discussed during the United Nations General Assembly.

That summit became a watershed moment in harnessing the potential of social media for social good. Following the inaugural event, the United Nations Foundation sponsored a four-day Digital Media Lounge at the 92nd Street Y. For the first time, an online community gained exclusive access to high-level officials and international leaders. It was a huge success.

The United Nations quickly recognized the power of collaborative innovation and partnered with the Social Good Summit in 2011. Conversations grew deeper and bigger than ever imagined. By 2012 the Social Good Summit birthed +SocialGood, bringing the conversation to an uber local level by allowing innovators worldwide to host Mashable Meetups of the summit in their own cities.

Last year, people in more than 300 cities in 150 countries joined the conversation. Innovators, mothers, teenagers, millennials and more were given a global voice. Something amazing began to happen: Long-term issues like poverty, world hunger, clean water and environmental sustainability were being solved through short-term actions, by utilizing the powerful combination of new tools, technologies and fresh ideas.

In April I relocated from Brooklyn to North Miami and was dismayed at the prospect of missing the summit this year. Three weeks ago I shared this dissapointment with one of the New York organizers via Twitter, who suggested that I host the event here in Miami.

That one tweet set off a wild chain of events. On Day One The LAB Miami agreed to host, and with tunnel vision I began planning the production of the Social Good Summit Miami. One by one, panelists agreed to speak, people volunteered their time and energy and sponsors jumped on board.

When the event finally happened on Sept. 24, it was an incredible experience. Matt Haggman, Knight’s Miami program director, moderated a panel of Keynote Listeners including:

Following the panel, Maria de los Angeles moderated an audience participation Q&A. Amazing insight from local changemakers brought to light issues that we face. We explored topics ranging from the danger of rising sea levels; how civic innovation leads to economic empowerment; how millennials are creating tools to shape future generations; to practical ways of using technology to bridge the gap between activism and problem-solving. These discussions are particularly important as decisionmakers map out the next set of overarching goals our community should set.

Even though the Social Good Summit Miami physically wrapped up last week, the discussion continues. South Florida is fertile ground for social entrepreneurial and economic growth. We need to capitalize on this momentum.

It is no secret that we face challenges in South Florida. Conversations at the summit highlighted our need to reevaluate and optimize our relationship with technology, to improve communication and collaboration.

Updated: On Monday, Oct. 21, from 7 to 9 p.m., Oct. 7, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The LAB Miami will open its doors once again, providing a platform to continue this conversation. Please join us at the free event.

I am just one voice. But I am not alone. All around me are people that want to make a difference, and together we can change the world.

Follow the conversation on Twitter via @SGSMiami.