#PDX11: Turning things up a notch for Portland’s “software cluster”

So, last night a few Portland tech community folks got together at a bar and talked about the upcoming software industry summit on November 18th. You haven’t heard about it? Well, here’s the lowdown:

Mayor Adams, the Software Association of Oregon and the Portland Development Commission cordially invites you to participate in the development of a key software cluster strategy for the Oregon/SW Washington region. By attending this informative meeting you will play an instrumental part in the process with other top business community leaders.

The deal is: you show up, you get to help direct the resources dedicated to software industry development from the Portland Development Commission, the Mayor’s office and the Software Association of Oregon. That’s pretty much it. The people who go to this meeting are the folks who will be directing the future of the PDC’s “Portland Software Mandate”, which is part of that whole industry “cluster” initiative that targets active outware, advanced manufacturing, clean tech and software. More broadly, this is part of the 5-year plan to guide Portland’s economic growth.

Anyway, you really should attend this meeting next Thursday. If you can’t attend, see if you can get someone you know or a friend to attend on your behalf. We want to pack city hall.

That’s right — we’re meeting in the City Council Chambers. It’ll be great. Please attend! It starts at 4:30pm and goes to 6:30pm. And, if you show up we can lead you over to a sweet afterparty. Seriously. It’s gonna be awesome.

But — back to the PDX11 thing. One thing we talked about during the meeting was that we’re having problems communicating to everyone what it is that we’re doing with this whole “portland/pdx software cluster strategy”. It’s a mouthful to say that, and once you take another step and try to describe who is involved and why, things get muddy.

What if we just made a hashtag for it? What if we created a community site to start hacking on our city’s approach to software industry? To have public conversations about what’s next, and to bring to the table all aspects of development: education, small businesses, big businesses, hobbyists, investors and an epic number of volunteers.

Our first stab at this is to create pdx11.org. There’s nothing there yet (sorry, just bought the domain name), so this is your opportunity to help create this thing.

Last night, as we tried to come up with a concise name for what we were talking about, people started to giggle, and laugh at “turn it up to 11” jokes. Next year is 2011, so this thing has an expiration date (deadlines – my favorite procrastination ending technique). Because really, we’re kicking off this thing and wanting to deliver in 2011 on some initiatives. Which if you’re not aware are:

  • Creating a Knowledge Network to support local user groups – group convened by Warren Harrison of PSU
  • Developing a business mentorship network – group convened by SAO’s Matt Nees
  • Enhancing a financing network – group convened by Gerald Baugh of the PDC

These conveners are here to be project managers in the best sense — to find out what it is that *you* want to have happen, and then to communicate, document and follow up with public and private partners who are *making* these initiatives happen.

But back to PDX11. We wanted a name, a brand, something that made it easier for us to talk about with and recruit people inside the community, a connection point for locals, and a launchpad for outsiders to check us out.

If you’re up for helping to build the site, contact me directly (selenamarie -at- gmail -dot- com) and we’ll get going.

Otherwise, we’ll see you next thursday!


For those not familiar with the PDC surveys, here are links to the results in SlideRocket format (meh):

Survey 1 Results
Survey 2 Results

It’s not just Noirin.

I meant to write something funny, insightful and biting. But honestly, I’ve lost my sense of humor at the moment. So, here’s your trigger warning about discussing rape, statistics and slut-shaming if you want to stop reading now.

What’s happened is that Noirin was sexually assaulted. And then she named the person who assaulted her.

I’m lucky enough to have never been assaulted at a conference. I can barely imagine the hurt and frustration, because the people who attend the conferences I run or attend are my friends, people I trust, and the violation feels unforgivable. This thought brings me to tears because of the time and energy that I have put into the last six years as a volunteer: creating conferences, giving talks and loving being part of a global community of hackers.

Unfortunately, I know women who have been assaulted. With each day that passes since Noirin’s disclosure, I find out about more women who never told anyone about an assault. I’m very glad that Noirin went to the Atlanta police.

Some facts:

  • According to the US Department of Justice, 127,052 people reported being sexually assaulted or raped in 2009. From 2000 to 2009, the victimization rate from this study went from 1.2 down to 0.5. Yay us!
  • According to the US Department of Justice, only 39% of rapes and sexual assaults were reported in 2004 to law enforcement officials (Page 106, table 91). That pretty much sucks.

And why is it that people don’t report these crimes?

Well, there was a survey recently by the Haven group that has some interesting, if disturbing conclusions. There’s been a lot of coverage of it — the BBC for example.

One appalling quote:

The survey also found more than one in 10 people were unsure whether they would report being raped to the police…

And why won’t people report?

The main reasons were being too embarrassed or ashamed (55%), wanting to forget it had happened (41%) and not wanting to go to court (38%).

So, reader, what can we do about this?

If you encounter someone who has been assaulted, support them! You’re not the police, you’re not a court of law — it isn’t your job to put anyone on trial. What you can do is be understanding, and help the woman report the incident to police.

Also, publicly voice your support. You can simply thank someone like Noirin for their bravery in coming forward, and leave it at that. Valerie Aurora wrote a supportive blog post with the headline “It’s not just Noirin.” You’re welcome to do that too.

There’s an undertow of disgust in the horrific comments I’ve read on Reddit, Norin’s own blog (and wow – I can’t say I’ll have the same bravery if the trolls ever come after me), and in private. It’s utterly painful to read, exhausting and terrifying. To be called a cunt for speaking about one’s experience. Wow. What year is this?

I, for one, am so happy that Noirin had the strength to write so clearly about her experience, and to say what I believe: “It is everyone else’s job to avoid assaulting me”.

One comment that sticks in my head from Hacker News:

We as the technology community need to make sure it’s not a “dark alley” for anyone, for everyone’s sake.

And for the women who are assaulted: there is no fucking way that it is their fault.

Weekly tweet digest for 2010-11-07