DC-area creatives primed to deliver meaningful projects during Digital Capital Week

Launched April 1, Digital Capital Week (DCWEEK) unveiled a wiki to fill volunteer positions for twenty-five projects focused on technology, innovation, and all things digital. The ten-day festival is designed to promote digital literacy, drive economic (re)development and improve the interconnectedness of Washington, D.C. residents and their government.

Similar to Austin, Texas’ SXSW festival (where live performances are sprawled throughout the city, utilizing traditional venues and barbershops alike), DCWEEK will have distributed events across the District with a few anchor locations serving as the main organizers’ headquarters. During a sneak peak at Transparency Camp, DCWEEK co-producer and iStrategyLabs CEO Peter Corbett said his main role was to connect and enable the different types of talents located in the DC-area who are committed to improving life inside the Beltway.

“As organizers, our main role will be to curate and mobilize. The key is to understand the kinds of people who are interested in helping – designers, developers, content writers, entrepreneurs, hardware techs, etcetera – and to understand the kinds of things that are possible with such skill sets.”

The DCWEEK Project Labs wiki contains twenty-seven spaces for seed projects to help prospective project leads brainstorm ways to be involved. Some of the seed projects were introduced via an idea platform, powered by UserVoice, where individuals could suggest, vote and comment on projects ranging from digital literacy and social media clinics, to simply organizing a jobs fair and barbeque “somewhere outside”. Among the more ambitious projects already being cultivated, is a Pop-up Lab and pro bono consulting clinic, slated to run for the life of the festival.

The H Street Pop-up Lab will turn a vacant library kiosk into a temporary innovation lab for creatives, technologists and citizens to experiment with new things, according to the project description. The project is part of a neuveau term known as “temporary urbanism.”

Ideally, the space could be turned temporarily into learning labs for area residents, demonstrating ways other parts of DC could develop community revitalization pilots into on-going programs. According to a list of required resources, ten volunteers are needed to clean and beautify the space and a minimal infrastructure build-out of furniture, lighting and Wi-Fi will also be required. Organizers are still working on the logistics with the city in using the space, but according to Mr. Corbett, “The idea is to envision new uses (of vacant real estate) in low-risk ways.”

Another project in the works for DCWEEK is a ten-day, pro bono consulting clinic. Anchored from George Washington University’s School of Public Management, the consulting clinic is designed to provide pro bono services to budding entrepreneurs in need. According to the project description, “Non-profits, small businesses and start-ups of all kinds are welcome to set an appointment…to talk to people who can help you solve your non-personal problems.” Strategists, designers, technologists, copywriters and others will offer their talents free of charge to help anyone who needs to know how to set up a website, design a logo or understand their particular market of interest. The consulting clinic is expected to be among the biggest projects, calling for about fifty slots for volunteers to fill.

Organizers said they expect between 3,500 and 5,000 participants over the ten-day period. And although events will be free to all registrants, terms of sponsorship and avenues for donation will be available, organizers said. Reflecting on the SXSW model, Corbett said the number one goal for DCWEEK, was to get things accomplished.

“At SXSW you get inspired – you meet interesting people, you listen to music and eat great food, you relax – at DCWEEK, you get stuff done.”

To learn more about how to get involved or suggest a project, visit digitalcapitalweek.org.

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