Inside #NetCulture with Lead Organizer Ajay Puri: Part I

On Tuesday, April 5, I will be a volunteer at #NetCulture: Stories of Culture and Diversity in Social Media, a free event co-hosted by Coop CultureNet Tuesday Vancouver and the Vancouver Public Library. Six local speakers from Vancouver’s culturally diverse communities will share how social media has helped them strengthen their identities, roots and friendships.

I had a chance to sit down with lead organizer Ajay Puri and ask him a few questions about #NetCulture. The following is the first installment in a two-part series. Below, I ask Ajay to reflect on how the event came to be and who inspired him to start organizing #NetCulture.

TB: What is your event?

AP: We are flipping the buzz words “multiculturalism” and “social media” on their heads with #NetCulture. People from diverse communities are interested not only in how to use these tools but on how these tools help them connect, share their stories and have a voice—we hope to illustrate this through our speakers’ personal stories.

TB: What prompted you to organize this event? Who inspired you?

AP: You can’t learn to organize an event by and for the community from a book. For the last ten years, I’ve been a grassroots organizer. When I started to use social media in 2009, I found I was able to take issues that mattered to me—equity, inclusiveness and diversity—and engage in a wider, broader conversation.

Then, I started to ask myself, “How can I help others share their stories?”

At the same time that I was mulling this over, I attended an event hosted by Net Tuesday Vancouver where Alden Habacon spoke about Multiculturalism 2.0: More Than Ethnic, which he also later presented at TEDx Vancouver. It was one of the first times that I really started thinking about identity and technology together.

In late 2010, I was reading Latoya Peterson’s work on Racialicious and Kety Esquivel’s articles on the Huffington Post.

In their own ways, Alden, Latoya and Kety were pushing me to think about how technology—and social media in particular—can be used to showcase the extraordinary things people of diverse backgrounds are doing everyday.

When I saw that Kety was speaking about the use of social media among the Latino community in the U.S. at an event hosted by Social Media Atlanta, I wondered if we could do the same in Vancouver.

I sent out a tweet to gauge if there was any interest for an event here and immediately heard from Kulpreet Singh and Vancity Buzz. They encouraged me to make it happen—and so I started making calls.

TB: How does this relate to Net Tuesday Vancouver and the monthly events hosted by that organization?

AP: Net Tuesday Vancouver is a meetup where people who care about social change come together and talk about how they can use social media effectively.

I was thinking about this while trying to get to sleep the other day and realized that the event’s three co-sponsors each fill unique roles. Net Tuesday Vancouver is a group dedicated to social change and social media. The Vancouver Public Library acts as the creative commons—the physical space where people gather to learn and share knowledge. And Coop Culture is the platform for talking about cultural diversity, inclusion, equity and how it relates to mix media.

Watch for the next installment in this two-part series tomorrow.

Photo credit:  foobotofoto photography

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