Courtesy of the Inclusive Innovation Summit 2019.

Next Thursday, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the City of Pittsburgh will kick off the fourth annual Inclusive Innovation Summit, a three-day event aimed at fostering civic engagement and collaboration around the subject of making Pittsburgh a more inclusive place to live and work.

“This year’s Summit is about strengthening partnerships to make Pittsburgh a stronger, more cohesive city,” said URA Executive Director Robert Rubinstein. “The Summit will serve as a platform to elevate and amplify voices over the course of three action-packed days.”

Running from March 28 until March 30, the summit will include lectures and workshops featuring a wide range of activists, artists and entrepreneurs. While kick-off speeches and events will be held at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and Kelly Strayhorn Theater on Friday night, the main action of the summit will take place at Point Park University and the new URA building Downtown.

This year’s speakers include Change Agency founder Betty Cruz and artist/activist Jasiri X.

While previous iterations of the Inclusive Innovation Summit spread events into dozens of venues around the city, the organizers found that the cost and labor necessary to host that broad of an event often put a strain on the resources of partner organizations.

“In order to manage a truly inclusive event, we thought consolidating the number of venues would be an interesting pivot for the fourth year,” Todd Smith, digital community specialist with the city’s Department of Innovation & Performance and organizer of the summit, tells NEXTpittsburgh.

In addition, the centralized location will allow the city to provide free or discounted transportation to the event via partnerships with the Port Authority, Healthy Ride and ridesharing companies.

“Having the Summit centered in one place this year means attendees can take part in more events and make more meaningful connections,” says Mayor Bill Peduto. “We hope everyone has a chance to collaborate, learn from one another and celebrate the important work that is being done across sectors to promote inclusion.”

Smith says that even if they’re not attending a program, participants can still network and socialize at Base Camp Cafe, a pop-up lounge located in the URA building at 412 Boulevard of the Allies. The cafe will serve food and drinks, and feature activities like the Children’s Museum’s XOXO project, a mobile museum experience that guides participants through simple activities based on examining and expressing emotions.

“We’ve definitely grown out of our initial roots as tech-focused,” says Smith. “It has become more about culture and equity as well, with innovation more as a mindset.”

Register for the summit here. Event admission is free, and childcare is also free for registered attendees.

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.