(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Light City is back for a second year next week. Before the lights come up, the innovation conference portion is set to run during the day from April 3-8 at Columbus Center in Inner Harbor.
The weeklong Labs@Light City is focused on social change — with a particular focus on solutions happening right now.
The new name suggests changes in the second year, and that extends to the terms of format. Like any new venture, the organizers of the daytime innovation conference portion collected feedback and made some changes.
Instead of four two-day track conferences, there are now single-day events. “This year we’re having 6 topics that are each one day,” said Jamie McDonald, founder of Generosity Inc. (not to be confused with Technical.ly sister site Generocity) and co-chair of Light City. The new topics are education (April 5) and food (April 8).
Organizers also created Light City Luminaries allowing folks from the community who can’t afford to attend to apply to attend for a day at no cost.
For the next several days, there’s a discount for everyone. Through March 27, register using the code Lucky99 to get $99 tickets.
The full days of programming will flow between panels, one-on-one conversations and TEDx-style talks, with a few performances and yoga breaks sprinkled in. Organizers were keen to open up more networking time at breakfast and lunch, keep the energy going with events to close out the day like the Ravens pitch competition and Startup Soiree.
McDonald said the organizers brought together a group of 20 curators from Baltimore to identify the “most pressing and critical topics in social innovation in these sectors,” as well as to have a diversity of perspectives. The speakers are a cross-section from three categories: internationally known, well-known Baltimore innovators and the lesser-known Baltimoreans who are doing work you may not have heard about yet.
She used the example of the Food Lab, which offered the food track as one example, which has chefs you have seen on TV like Marcus Samuelsson and Jeff Henderson. During the day, Baltimore’s James Beard Award–winning Spike Gjerde is speaking, as well as Rev. Herber Brown III discussing how he created a food network between Eastern Shore farmers and churches in Baltimore.
“It will give people a chance to really think deeply and be inspired, and I think for our local audience it will make them proud to be from Baltimore,” McDonald said.
Here’s a look at highlights from each track:
- April 3
Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist Siddhartha Mukherjee is among the highlights of the morning session with a talk about the history of the gene. Later in the a.m., Personal Genome Diagnostics’ Lucas Diaz and Dr. Jeffery Kahn of Johns Hopkins’ Berman Institute of Bioethics will talk about the concerns and opportunities around genetic information. Just before noon, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Leana Wen and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis will have a conversation on how their work intersects. Speaking in the afternoon is Jandel Allen-Davis of Kaiser Permanente, who will give his TEDx talk “The River of Health,” and a panel of founders of Baltimore startups like Protenus, Sonavex and FactoryFour will discuss healthtech. The day closes with a talk from Johns Hopkins brain scientist Jon Krakauer.
- April 4
Macarthur Genius grant recipient Majora Carter will talk about her path from starting in the green movement into focusing more widely on urban revitalization. Green innovation and entrepreneurship thoughts from startups and the leaders of companies larger Baltimore companies like BGE, Bithenergy and Bambeco are also on the agenda. Dr. Leyla Acaroglu, founder of Disrupt Design and Unschool, closes out the day with a talk on changing systems. Startup Soiree is the event at twilight.
- April 5
UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski and Industries of the Future author Alec Ross begin the day in conversation, before giving way to a lightning round of ideas for reshaping education. Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises and Towson University President Kim Schatzel will also have a conversation. Talks throughout the day focus on approaches in public schools and outside the classroom that go outside of the normal system. And there’s some art with Mindgrub’s Todd Marks discussing gamification and producer Wendell Patrick discussing sound. The day closes with a University System of Maryland innovation fair.
- April 6
The day’s keynotes is bookended by authors: bestselling author Luvvie Ajayi talks about “Speaking Truth to Power,” and author Nilofer Merchant discusses “Onlyness.” In the afternoon, Jess Ladd of Sexual Health Innovations talks about a new system for reporting sexual assault. Throughout the day, a bevy of Baltimore entrepreneurs and innovators that Technical.ly has frequently covered talk about entrepreneurship, ecosystems, changing perceptions and beyond. The day closes with the Baltimore Ravens Innovation Challenge.
- April 7
There’s plenty of talk about making throughout the day, with Andrew Coy and a panel of entrepreneurs. Speakers from Bowie State and Johns Hopkins will talk designing wearables and justice. NASA’s Nasreen Alkhateeb is set to talk about digital storytelling, while talks about hip-hop, public art and creative placemaking provide a perspective on what’s happening in Baltimore. Dan Pallotta will discuss purpose-driven innovation. Performances from Baltimore artist Joyce J. Scott and Center Stage Director Kwame Kwei-Armah. The day closes with a Glamtech-powered fashion show.
- April 8
The day features Baltimore food entrepreneurs from Terra’s Kitchen, Dovecote Cafe, Taharka Brothers, Dooby’s, Hungry Harvest and Cureate talking about innovation and community. The afternoon also features a talk on food incubators. Title of the day goes to “Don’t Yuck My Yum,” a talk on food shaming and race by University of Maryland professor Psyche Williams-Forson. The day also closes with a showcase of Baltimore food vendors. Good times.
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