SXSL: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery


Monday, Oct. 3, 2016

White House South Lawn

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, which is why Austin is proud that one of our greatest traditions, SXSW, is being imitated in a sense, right here at the White House.

What makes SXSW in Austin great is that it reflects the soul of our city and people who live there. In Austin, that means keeping things weird and constantly adapting and innovating.

It’s where Willie Nelson re-invent country music by playing to audiences of kickers and hippies. It’s where Whole Foods reinvented the grocery store, Alamo Drafthouse re-invent dinner-and-a-movie date night, and Michael Dell reinvented the assembly line in his dorm room at UT.

South By South Lawn will be successful, here, if it reflects DC. And DC is special, too. It’s where being in high school debate rivals Texas football, where Model UN is considered serious job training, and where bragging about a subcommittee staff appointment is a great way to strike up a conversation late at night at a bar on U St.

Frankly, DC is far weirder than Austin ever thought of being.

My job as mayor is to serve the people of Austin and to steer innovation beyond the tech sector into education, healthcare, mobility, and housing, to make sure communities that are usually left behind are first in line for the next big thing. Those are our core responsibilities in government, but we don’t do it alone.

Government’s work in those areas is aided and often led by organizers, creators, social innovators, private companies… People like you – pitching in to make communities more respectful, healthy, fair, and more full of opportunity. Today is about celebrating that work.

Right here in the seat of government, at the White House, the President has brought you all together to celebrate your efforts and maybe, we hope, inspire others to join in.

I believe government is one of most important vehicles for change and progress, and I’d encourage more of you to join us in public office. But, you’ll notice, most of the folks you’ll hear from today aren’t elected officials or people working in government. This festival, however, is really about shining light on the work being done by private citizens.

To tell you more about today’s program and what you can expect to hear and see, here’s Jason Goldman, who started his career in tech but, has now expanded his talents and is serving his country as the White House’s first Chief Digital Officer.

Thank you.