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Toronto tech community gets its own storytelling night

Toronto tech community gets its own storytelling night

To an average person, one programming language looks exactly the same as the next. However, David Wolever and Phillip Mendonça-Vieira know better.

Working as the founder and software engineer for Appcanary, Mendonça-Vieira spends his days using one programming language, Ruby to track vulnerabilities in open source code. As the chief technology officer with Akindi, Wolever designs automated assessment systems for teachers using another programming language, Python. Wolever is also the director of PyCon Canada.

As friends, they’d often get together, but they realized they’d never see each other at Ruby-only or Python-only events, and that seemed a little exclusive. One night over a beer, they decided that Toronto’s tech community needed to come together outside their respective ecosystems.

“In late 2013, my friend and I met for beer and thought we should throw an event that brings people together, where you can show up and not fit into one of these boxes,” said Mendonça-Vieira.

On that first night, Mendonça-Vieira says they told all their friends to show up at 8 p.m. sharp, but that no one knew why or who was going to be there.

Hence, the Toronto Tech Worker’s Storytelling Night was born. They’ve grown exponentially since then and now host a storytelling night every three months.

“We think tech people have a responsibility to think about how the systems they design impact others,” says Mendonça-Vieira.

The first storytelling night took place in 2014 at the end of February and since the beginning, Mendonça-Vieira and Wolever have laid out a few ground rules. The first? You’re not allowed to rep your startup.

However, attendees are also asked to keep in mind that the event is intended to be inclusive. There’s a strict ban on racist, transphobic, homophobic, racist, transphobic, ableist, sexist, or “otherwise exclusionary behavior.”

You’ll find it stated right on their website. “Don’t be a jerk.”
Mendonça-Vieira goes on to say that storytelling isn’t exactly part of Toronto’s tech culture, and that this needs to change.

“If you’re from a more typical tech background, this is probably the first storytelling night you’ve been invited to.”

The pair’s last event was hosted this past Thursday at Dundas Video. Mendonça-Vieira says they received over 80 RSVPs this tims, which is more than they’ve been averaging.
So far, Wolever and Mendonça-Vieira have managed to host seven events, each one with a different theme. Stories are pre-screened to ensure that they’re neither inappropriate or ads, but otherwise, participants have free reign to share whatever tale they wish.

Each speaker gets approximately ten minutes, though there’s no set time limit, and speakers have come from all over the tech space to attend. Mendonça-Vieira adds that his guests aren’t the only ones who’ve gained something from these events.

He says that sometimes he’ll find himself thinking, “I know that person, but I did not know they had that experience.”

At the end of the day, he and Wolever want to open up Toronto tech workers to each other to have a few drinks, a few laughs, share the experiences that make working in Toronto’s technology space so unique.

Source: http://xvzf.io/
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