This is my final comment in this thread - in reference to a comment that we should to create a mega event like SXSW... (I have more to say about this idea, actually, because a large group of us discussed the possibility in detail, and why we thought it wouldn't work.)
I don't know much about how SXSW is structured inside, but I do know that they are providing a a unified vision for the conference. That has attracted not just more organizing power, but a huge, devoted attendee and presenter pool.
Stepping out on a limb - perhaps the issue here is more that a vision has not been offered which attracts the groups that you want to collaborate with. Collaboration is not the same thing as aggregation.
Portland tech groups collaborate with each other all the time, but they are loose affiliations and focused on what provides the most value for the limited resources we have. I'll also say that they are joyful connections - based on mutual benefit, friendship and an outcome whose goal is not just a product, but also having fun.
We often have conversations with each other about how we can make things less expensive, smaller and more fun, rather than how we can grow larger.
It's possible to have this mindset exist within a larger framework that might encompass it all. It just takes time, trust building, and work to find connections that truly benefit the community. The direct, local benefit should be considered first, and maybe involve promotion outside of our community second. Maybe third.
The tech community has regular, free-form events on Thursday nights at the Lucky Lab, and periodic meetings on Saturdays around OS Bridge. I won't be here this week, but definitely will be next week. :)
I'd be happy to talk with you or anyone else how we might create a larger framework.
Whatever it is needs to be something which can be incrementally built up, and I don't know that a mega event is what we really need.
Have some feedback? Corrections? Ideas for other posts? Contact me @selenamarie.