All day on Monday October 3, the White House will be hosting the “first-ever South by South Lawn (SXSL)” event, an innovation-focused gathering hat will bring together many of the sharpest minds in the United States to discuss the role that innovation can play in shaping the future for the better.
On a panel discussion called “Fixing Real Problems: How can we harness technology to solve our biggest, most stubborn problems?” will appear the pride of Lund, British Columbia, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, meaning that there’ll be a little bit of Canada injected into a discussion about how to improve America through the use of technology.
“This panel will explore the work of entrepreneurs and social innovators who are leveraging new technologies to address some of our most critical challenges – and ask you to think about how you might lend your own time and efforts toward lasting change,” says the White House’s blurb on the panel.
The panel will be moderated by New York Times Magazine staff writer Jenna Wortham, and will also feature Coalition for Queens founder Jukay Hsu, Transmedia Capital managing partner Chris Redlitz, and EpiBone CEO Nina Tandon.
The White House is describing SXSL as “a festival to celebrate the spirit of innovation and bring together creative thinkers and entrepreneurs.”
Other panels through the day include President Obama in conversation with actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Texas Tech University climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, a Breakfast Session at the Newseum featuring a conversation with James Turrell and David Adjaye, “Feeding the Future: How will we sustainably feed ourselves in the coming decades?”, “How We Make Change: What role do citizens have in bringing real and lasting change to our country?” moderated by Anil Dash, and “LA, a Case Study in Innovation: How do we foster innovation and collaboration in cities and local communities?”
No Peter Thiel or any of the other soylent eating, Trump supporting libertarians of Silicon Valley on those panels, you’ll notice.
President Obama is obviously playfully adopting the SXSW name, an event he delivered a keynote speech at this past May, signalling not just how forward-thinking he is personally, but also how skilled he is at connecting with start-up culture and more culturally attuned innovators.
Is anyone else going to miss this guy? Can we seriously imagine that the next president is going to keep “South by South Lawn” going as an annual event? Is it too early to mention just how lucky we’ve been to witness the eight year tenure of an intelligent, well-read, culturally savvy, skilled orator occupying the top job in the Oval Office? Will this happen again in our lifetimes? Seems unlikely, given the roster of the past few decades. Better enjoy it while it lasts.
SXSL featured a pre-event kick-off on Sunday, with the 3rd Annual White House Student Film Festival, which featured the short film work of several K-12 students who submitted short films along the theme of “The World I Want To Live In.”
Along with the panel discussions, Leonardo DiCaprio will premier his climate change documentary, called Before the Flood, several cast members from the Netflix show Stranger Things will be on hand, and musical acts The Lumineers and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings will perform.
The event will be live-streamed on the WhiteHouse.gov website and also via Facebook.com/WhiteHouse, and viewers can follow the proceedings on Twitter with the #SXSL hashtag.