Ottawa Non-Profit Tech Social Gathering
NOTE: There is a new effort to do this in Ottawa with Tech4good.
It's been years now that I've heard of the Social Tech Brewing Company phenomena in Vancouver and Toronto. Apparently it's even spread as far as Australia. However November 1st marked the first meeting of its kind here in Ottawa. George Irish & I have been discussing this ever since he moved up from Toronto, but we finally set a date and a Facebook group to try to coordinate the network. The response from the Ottawa progressive geek community was more successful than we had anticipated.
We talked mostly about what would be useful and keep a core group of people coming back to keep the gathering alive. There was interest in having a couple of different formats for future meetings.
Comparisons between other informal social networking structures was also made.
Groups like GOSLINGS meets weekly and has no formal agenda, although open source and government are a central theme (changes in location are posted on the website when they do occasionally occur).
Green Drinks Ottawa meets monthly and uses a centralized system that organizes Green Drinks gatherings internationally. The location is always the same, but the time varies. There is a nice little reminder email that people can sign up for so that you can get reminded. The email has potential discussion topics that are occasionally referenced.
Engineers Without Borders' Ottawa chapter organizes a Development Drinks session with speakers. The November session will be focused on potential impacts of future climate change on Africa. Not sure that there is much overlap or outreach to the environmental community, but sounds like it would be interesting for sure.
Getting people together with food & drink is an important part of building community. It is great to see efforts to build networks of like minded people flourish. It is interesting to see how the Internet is being used to help facilitate these.
There was some confusion about the name since it isn't a company, there really isn't any brewing going on and what is "social tech" anyways? Social Tech Brewing is an informal gathering of people working on, or interested in, the intersection of technology and the not-for-profit community in Canada. The simple mandate is for local people from tech, new media, business, not-for-profit organizations, and progressive causes get together on an somewhat monthly basis, to discuss how technology can be used for positive social change.
The second meeting of the Ottawa's Social Tech Brewing Co will be on November 21st (2007) at the Parliamentary Pub at 5:30pm. If you're on facebook please consier joining the group so that you can get notices of future events. Most importantly, please try to come out and meet with us for some great discussions with interesting people working for the non-profit community.
About The Author
Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.