FEATURE: Stephanie Duncker

I've been vegan for over 4 years. One reason I was excited to move to Portland Oregon was because I heard it was a vegan haven, but I soon found that for a place that prided itself on being "weird" it seemed (to me at least) fairly homogeneous. 

For many, Portland's lack of diversity is a punchline, but for those of us who live here it can be a depressing reality. This is especially apparent in the tech scene here. For that reason, I created a networking group run for/by underrepresented people in tech called PDXNALTA. When I first created it, it was just because I wanted to meet other people like me, mainly black people in tech- I had no idea the effect it would have on my career. Now, as a result of starting this group and immersing myself in the startup scene- I'll soon be starting as the Program Manager for the Startup PDX Challenge

As a young anti-capitalist activist I never would have imagined myself working in the startup world, but thinking about my values now- it makes perfect sense. Technology is a powerful tool for social change, and this has never been more evident than with startups. "Disruption" is not just a silly startup buzzword- it describes a process wherein small companies with limited resources can bootstrap their way to success, leading to the demise of huge companies and sometimes even whole industries. 

Not only do I see this disruption with startups, I see this in the work of intersectional activists, whether they are a part of the Black Lives Matter movement or working for food justice in the hood.

I have a lot of hope for society because there is so much innovation going on- to the point where meat producers are investing in vegan startups, because even they know that animal agriculture is not sustainable, and veganism is the way of the future. 

I'm really happy to be working with the Startup PDX challenge, because I get a chance to work with so many incredible underrepresented founders. Rather than Mark Zuckerberg types, using their privilege to invent the next big time waster, I'm working with people using their different perspectives to think up unique solutions to today's pressing problems. I'm excited to help them grow in a way that's sustainable and uplifts the community around them, unlike the traditional parasitic model of capitalism that swallows up and destroys everything in its path.

At the same time, I know we have a long way to go, especially in Portland. Rising costs of housing, economic disparities, and problems in representation still abound, so there's still much work to do. But we vegans are persistent, so you know I'm up for the challenge! :)

You can follow what I'm up to on my twitter @dunx, or my blog: dunx.co. You can also visit here to support my code learning journey.