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Insider Guide to Link Festival

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by Lionel (subscribe)
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An Exclusive Interview with Festival Producer Katie Shozi
link festival
Photo courtesy of Link Festival Australia

The Link Festival returns to Melbourne in February, bringing together some 400 of the leading and emerging social innovators and design professionals in Australia with each other and the public. This 2-day exploration of design, technology and social change was launched by Engineers Without Borders Australia(EWB), a member-based not-for-profit organisation which focuses on using engineering and technology to create systemic change.
katie shozi
Photo courtesy of Engineers Without Borders Australia

EWB works with communities overseas and Aboriginal communities in Australia, assisting them to access water, sanitation, energy and housing. It also works to transform the Australian engineering sector. This involves different initiatives such as looking at ways to increase Aboriginal employment in engineering and leading a movement to make pro bono engineering standard practice in Australian firms.

The Link Festival is part of EWB's efforts to educated wider community on issues including sustainable development, appropriate technology, poverty and the power of humanitarian engineering. This year's event is lead by Link Festival Producer Katie Shozi. She has worked in the international development and social change space for 7 years, with experience leading projects and campaigns in both Australia and South Africa. She has also worked for EWB for 3.5 years in a fundraising, events and communications role before taking on the production role.

I caught up with Katie to get the inside scoop on its bold vision for 2015 and how the festival can empower engineers, architects, designers, entrepreneurs and social change leaders to enact the change they want to see in the world.

link festival
Photo courtesy of Engineers Without Borders Australia

Lionel: What was the inspiration behind starting the Link Festival?

Katie: Link Festival is about bringing together designers, engineers, architects and urban planners who are interested in using their skills to solve real world problems (not first world problems). These professions have a distinct responsibility and a significant impact on the environment and society.

The world is facing significant challenges like poverty, climate change etc. We see a real need to bring together these important professions and equip them to use their skills to create a better future. We believe there is a new generation of professionals who want to use their powers for good, a community of professionals who haven't forgotten they are human. Link is about unlocking the potential in our delegates and equipping them to use their skills to change the world.

link festival
Photo courtesy of Engineers Without Borders Australia

Lionel: What's different between the Link Festival and other festivals taking place in Melbourne?

Katie: Link Festival is Australia's premier design for social change event. It brings together leading and emerging social innovators and a new generation of design and technology professionals to explore the nexus of design, technology and social change. Many early career professionals will be attending.

We'll be running mentoring for meaningful careers, to help connect these young people with inspiring individuals following amazing career paths. These mentoring sessions give delegates a unique insight into how to create a meaningful career. Another key difference is that we are offering Fellowships to people who want to attend but cannot afford to. Inclusivity is one of our key principles and our Fellowship program means this opportunity is accessible to all.

link festival
photo courtesy of Engineers Without Borders Australia

Lionel: What's new and exciting to you in the Link Festival this year?

Katie: As a communications professional I'm particularly excited about hearing David Ritter (CEO of Greenpeace) & Dumbo Feather Magazine talk about Storytelling for Change. I'm also looking forward to the first plenary session with Angus Hervey and Tane Hunter talking about the future, including trends and technologies that no one is thinking about but that will change the world. Tim Jarvis, one of the greatest modern day explorers, will share a powerful account of his recreation of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Trans-Antarctic journey, a journey which has informed Tim's work in sustainability and leadership.

tim jarvis
photo courtesy of Engineers Without Borders Australia

Lionel: Why should the general public pay attention to the Festival?

Katie: We have a number of free public events that are being run to coincide with Link Festival. Some of our partner organisations, CoDesign and Code for Australia, are running a public exhibition focused on community led urbanism in the Atrium space near Deakin Edge at Federation Square.

On the Monday evening (16 February at 6:30) we will be running Pathways to Impact a free, public event at Deakin Edge, featuring a panel of speakers from Engineers Without Borders, Australian Volunteers International, Architects Without Frontiers and Asylum Seekers Resource Centre. The evening will present practical ways that people can get involved and use their skills to create social change.

Tickets and more information are available at
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Why? Where else can you explore design, technology and social change?
When: Refer to website for schedule
Phone: (03) 9329 1166
Where: Deakin Edge, Federation Square
Cost: Free & ticketed
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