Day two of the conference yielded several important insights, but the ones that moved me most began at lunch. To be honest, I get tired of talking about violence. It wears me out emotionally. It frustrates me about our society. It drains me. And we absolutely can’t stop hearing real truths if we are to move the issue to the front of the work that we all do. The lunch session started out with a brief speech by Mayor Mitch Landrieu. I’d never heard him speak before, and as eloquent and poignant as he was it seemed clear the entire time that he knew one important truth—he was simply a vessle to deliver an important message: If we are not safe in America we are not free.” An important message made more so by his explicit acknowledgement that violence—regardless of who the victim OR the perpetrator may be—is everyone’s concern. His words were the backdrop for a discussion of the film The Interrupters. I was so moved by the discussion that I left early to go download the rental from iTunes so I could watch. As Cobe Williams pointed out before I left, “we can’t just care about our own kids, we have to care about everybody’s kids.” Post Script: Did anyone catch Aminah’s subtle Spades reference near the end of the movie? Very impressive, that one.
There is no gentle transition to the rest of the day, so I won’t even try. Suffice it to say the power of the moment wasn’t lost on anyone who listened and many will likely carry the emotional weight of the session back to our respective work—which is a good thing.
I have Twitter to thank for a short divergence into a room of Next Generation philanthropy professionals thinking about career and continuing to serve in this arena. It was a short session I learned about by following a conference-goer on Twitter and was a brief but interesting introduction to the hurdles a few experienced mid-career professionals are facing.
This brought me to Big Data. I can’t do this session justice so I’ll keep it short and encourage you to explore the topic. Mark Bolgiano of the Council gave an incredibly enlightening presentation about the next wave of innovation that will help us serve and give in better more impactful ways. To take one example, this video shows Hans Rosling revealing in a very fun way how massive amount of data can be used to creatively tell a story. Mr. Bolgiano explained to us that in addition to cool presentations of data, the quickly decreasing cost of storage and the richness of analytic tools means we are on the cusp of better, more reliable, more efficient uses of data to about the communities we serve. We all know the value of qualitative information in our work, but it is a complement to the wave of new, inexpensive data we have available. He made the point that every item of music ever recorded IN THE ENTIRE WORLD could fit on a data storage device that costs $600! This is evidence of how inexpensive data is becoming and how much more useful we can make it if we choose. If you get a chance, text 22333 with the message EMAIL4MARK to get his slides. Well worth it.
I believe The San Diego Foundation and its new Center for Civic Engagement will find ways to leverage this new Big Data world and hope many others do as well.