It is that time of year again when many of us who blog and write and speak gather amongst ourselves at various industry conferences. I’m not quite ready to confirm which ones I’m going to this year yet, but have already enjoyed the gathering of like minds right here in Greensboro that was the Piedmont Together Framework for Prosperity Summit.
I think it’s one thing to write in isolation, with the occasional Facebook share, comment or email to a colleague that happens with an online or even printed article. Yet, for me, as an extroverted writer and speaker, the joy that comes from gathering with my fellow urbanists or marketers, or professional black women or young women with side gigs or just chillin’ with my best friends and family is healing. It’s why so many of us when we can or on a regular basis attend worship services or fellowship meetings or yoga classes. You grow and you change and you heal from being around like minds.
An additional piece I like about conferences and convening is that when done the right way, these events change lives outside the conference hall. One example in the placemaking movement is the Tactical Urbanism push, which started as a Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) NextGen conversation and has now been adopted by mayors and used by people who long knew the power of a good block party or community project to ignite good neighborhoods. I’ll never forget the time I participated in this effort to create a promenade on a local street: (I’m in the pink hoodie)
I want to add that conferences that don’t have a good mix of keynotes, breakouts, formal and informal networking sessions fail. Some of the best connections and most valuable business deals happen in the exhibit hall. Another failure comes when your content isn’t compelling. I know occasionally, one has to explain the mechanics of a situation, especially in a continuing education class. Yet, we remember most the vibrant teachers, the ones who have found the human touch in the most boring of subjects.
I’m going to leave you with a set of videos that were produced on why people go to the CNU every year. I look forward to seeing you this season on the conference circuit. I’ll announce the gatherings I’ve confirmed this year via social networks, this blog and my daily news email, powered by North Carolina Placebook. Speaking of Placebook, head over there now and find out what the latest news is in North Carolina placemaking.
If you want me to come and speak at your gathering, please contact me. Unless it’s local, I do ask that you work with me to offset travel costs and time spent preparing my remarks, but I can work with the smallest budget, to maximize both mine and your learning time.