The inaugural South by South Lawn event was hosted by the White House to bring together America’s great thinkers.  Inspired by Austin’s South by Southwest, the “one-day event celebrated art, ideas and action, featuring guests from all parts of the spectrum, including Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, technologist and activist for inclusion in tech Anil Dash, music group The Lumineers (pictured above), Brittany Packnett of social justice organization Campaign Zero and actor Leonardo DiCaprio." 

The Festival covered a gambit of topics ranging from social justice, to climate change, to virtual reality.  An example of this included the virtual reality simulation of an American prisoner’s time in solitary confinement.   If technology can accurately describe a person’s upbringing or point of view, maybe Americans can be more empathetic with one another.

In addition to music and VR, panel discussions on workplace trends and climate change with Leonardo DiCaprio brought a unique vibe to the event.

As much of a positive as the festival was, I do think the ultimate goal of the event was lost a bit. If South by South Lawn is truly an opening of ideas, conservative / diverging perspectives were needed to create a more balanced narrative.  No I don’t mean bring in a guy who shouts "Climate Change is a lie”, but bring in a person of conservative principles who supports the President’s agenda and who offers a varying option.  Bringing like minded people together in a world with multiple views is a terrible way to find solutions.

For all the good this could be, in the future I would like to see more perspectives in panel discussions and overall solutions.