Adapting to change and building inclusion through augmented and virtual reality

four people framed by computer screens

By Nelson Beckford, Program Director, Neighborhood Revitalization & Engagement

I stopped saying “pivot” when referencing how the local nonprofit sector has adapted to this new reality (e.g. COVID, racial unrest/uprising, the lock-down, social isolation, unemployment and economic uncertainty). To call this is a “pivot,” a small turn from a fixed point, is insulting – and insincere. Would you call a marathon “a little jog,” or 2020 “an interesting year”? No. 

As humans, when faced with bad stuff like trauma, disruption or unwelcome change, we have four psychological responses: fight, flight, freeze or appease. The same applies to nonprofits.  

Specific to neighborhoods, COVID and the resulting ban on gathering forced our partners to adapt to a new reality while learning how to use digital and virtual tools – in real-time.  

From virtual convenings and live streaming nature hikes to digital organizing around the 2020 census and citizen-led reporting on virtual public meetings, the creativity, innovation, resourcefulness and “fight” displayed by our partners should be acknowledged, celebrated and shared. 

While our increased reliance on technology and internet connectivity this year has put a spotlight on the digital divide that exists in our community, new technologies – including augmented and virtual reality – can also be used to foster inclusion and a more equitable future.

Join us on Dec. 15 from 10 – 11:30 a.m. for a free, virtual learning session hosted by Candid to learn about the Cleveland Foundation’s digital inclusion work and to hear about the terms, tools, infrastructure and skills needed to build digital inclusion through augmented/virtual reality.

I am excited to participate in this conversation with my colleague Curt Williams, digital innovation fellow at the Cleveland Foundation; David Jurca, principal at Seventh Hill; and representatives from nonprofits who’ve embraced this new technology. Our discussion will be moderated by Dave Holmes. Please tune in and bring your questions!