#GovJamCLT strives to solve Charlotte’s biggest problems in 48 hours

Charlotteans seeking to change the world — or even just the local community — in 48 hours have been called upon for this weekend’s #GovJamCLT event, no expertise necessary.

The weekend-long event, which starts Friday night at The Junior League of Charlotte, challenges up to 60 people from diverse backgrounds to engage in a discussion designed to solve some of the city’s greatest challenges.

They just don’t know what those challenges will be yet.

Meghann Gunderman, a member of Charlotte Shapers and the event’s curator, said the theme for the weekend will be revealed Friday night by Susan Patterson, program director for the Knight Foundation of Charlotte.

The Knight Foundation offered a $10,000 grant to help fund the event.

“It’s great to just have people come together that care about our community and want to figure out ways to make it better,” Patterson said.

Gunderman said organizers have kept the theme a secret because they feared people without expertise would be deterred from attending.

“They’re giving everyone a voice, and that is so empowering, to feel like your voice can be heard even if you’re not an expert,” said Amie Kiehn, a digital strategist at a marketing and entertainment firm in Charlotte who is attending #GovJamCLT.

Gunderman said Charlotte Shapers is an initiative of the World Economic Forum, which challenges them to do something locally with a global impact every year. The #GovJamCLT will be the team’s main event for 2015, she said.

After the theme is announced, attendees will brainstorm ideas and present to the group about what they think is the biggest issue facing Charlotte. She said they will be organized in small groups based on their interest or stake in that problem.

On Saturday, groups will research the issue within the community and refine their concept for solving it with help from local experts using a “design thinking” approach. Gunderman said design thinking is a process for problem solving that starts with the end goal.

“We’re allowing people to kind of identify the opportunities and solutions and find the people to make it happen,” Gunderman said.

Kendra Shillington, a design thinker who will help facilitate the event, said she is committed to seeing Charlotte grow in the right direction.

“People don’t realize how much you can get done in three days when you work this way,” she said.

Gunderman said attendees will present their ideas to the group on Sunday, and those prototypes will be put on a global platform for everyone to see.

“The ultimate objective is to build innovations and innovators,” she said.

Fowler: 704-358-5294

Twitter: @h_fowl