The Global Switchboard Community Convening

July 16, 2014


More than 50 people attended The Global Switchboard Community Convening on July 16, 2014, an event designed to explore how Pittsburgh can become a more global city. The event took place at the Kaufmann Center at the Hill House in Pittsburgh’s Hill District neighborhood and was sponsored by Amizade Global Service-Learning and The Sprout Fund. (Thanks to the Kaufmann Center for use of their awesome space!)

Small group discussions were the primary element of the Global Switchboard Community Convening. The dialogue was facilitated by Sprout-trained moderators who led participants through a variety of design thinking exercises about global engagement. (Thanks to Leah Silverman of Design by Leah for graphically capturing the conversation!)

The facilitation process was comprised of a series of activities that began by asking each group to identify the fundamental elements of global engagement. Words like empathy, equality, and participatory are indicative of how attendees interpret the term global engagement.

Once the group gained a common understanding of the topic at hand, the facilitators invited each participant to consider global engagement in the Pittsburgh context. Using a technique called Rose, Thorn, Bud (popularized by the Luma Institute), participants identified roses (strengths), thorns (challenges), and buds, (opportunities) about the current state of global engagement in Pittsburgh.

With a strong command of Pittsburgh’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, the groups then brainstormed strategies to enhance global engagement in Pittsburgh. Dozens of strategies were devised to make Pittsburgh a more global city. After the ideas were hatched, facilitators clustered the strategies into categories and group members prioritized them against one another. Here is an example of one group’s strategy clusters after they were prioritized using an Importance/Difficulty Matrix (also a Luma Institute technique!):

After the event ended, all of the final charts were analyzed. Based on that analysis, four common themes emerged from the process: (1) the importance of storytelling, (2) the need to continue developing a robust community of practice, (3) the critical nature of education-based initiatives, and (4) the vital role of advocacy and public policy efforts.

In August, members of the Global Switchboard will meet again to drill down on these themes and develop tangible ways to put them into action.

Thanks to everyone who attended the Global Switchboard Community Convening. We look forward to seeing you again soon and working together to make Pittsburgh a more global city!

– Amizade & Sprout

For more pictures of TGS Convening, take a look at our picture gallery here.