This past weekend, the South by Southwest Conference and Festival kicked off in Austin, Texas and for the first time since 2019, the United States Conference of Mayors was able to convene the Civic I/O Mayors Summit in person alongside the larger conference. Austin Mayor Steve Adler hosted nearly 20 mayors for this year’s summit.
The summit kicked off on Friday with a series of conversations about how the world has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic shut the world down in March of 2020. Everything from the evolving future of work to how we interact in digital spaces was discussed. We were also fortunate to take a small field trip to look at the future of housing – a single-family home that was created by a 3D printer.
Later that afternoon, our first SXSW panel for 2022 – Public Trust in the Age of Disinformation – took place in front of a packed audience. Time Magazine’s Molly Ball moderated a discussion featuring Richmond, VA Mayor Levar Stoney, Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, and University of Texas Center for Media Engagement Professor Talia Stroud. The conversation focused on how disinformation online and the death of local news have played major factors in the spread of fake news in cities.
On Saturday, the theme of how the world has changed since COVID-19 continued and mayors participated in a workshop led by Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, M.D. that was co-created by the United States Conference of Mayors and the Office of the Surgeon General. The workshop aimed to explore how mayors can play a key role in helping people regain social connections. Mental health challenges, social media, loneliness, and the pandemic have all contributed to the lack of trust and general disconnection between one another and the workshop looked at ways mayors can bring people back together.
Later on Saturday, our second SXSW panel, Madam Mayor: The Rise of Women Leading Cites, was moderated by The 19th’s Amanda Becker and featured Fort Worth Mayor Maddie Parker and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. This conversation centered on the increasing number of women getting elected to the office of mayor and the ways we can get more women in chief executive roles everywhere.
On the final day of the Civic I/O Mayors Summit, we hosted the 4th Mayors Match-Up Civic Tech Pitch where six startups pitched to mayors why their company was deserving of a $10,000 cash prize. The winning company was Good Call, which uses technology and community organizing to provide immediate access to legal support.
Our final mayors panel at SXSW took place on Sunday – The New Silicon Cities: Austin & Miami – was one of SXSW’s featured sessions. Mayor Adler and Conference President Miami Mayor Francis Suarez were interviewed by NBC News Technology Correspondent Jacob Ward about how their cities are transforming into centers of tech and innovation along with how they confront challenges that places like the San Francisco Bay Area have experienced with that kind of explosive growth.
Once again, I want to thank Austin Mayor Steve Adler for not only hosting this year’s Civic I/O but also for his dedication to our organization and his work since 2016 to bring together the Conference of Mayors and South by Southwest. As he leaves office after this year, Civic I/O remains a strong part of his legacy within the Conference of Mayors. Thank you, Mayor Adler.