I just got back from a writer’s conference and the energy there electrified every session. Writers wanting to know about how to make books for e-readers, about how to use social media to sell their books, about how publishing itself will have to change to keep up….it was invigorating. Seven thousand people descending on one hotel over just a few days, it’s an event ripe for instituting change.
Some sessions were inspirational, providing our literary heroes a venue to read and discuss their work, while other were more practical: how to be a travel writer, how to find online jobs, how to survive an MFA. The topics spanned the gamut of writerly life and, if people felt like I did, they left the conference charged and ready to take on their careers.
So I was thinking, where is the conference for those of us who want to impact the environment? Where’s the relatively cheap event ($140 for the one I attended in Washington, D.C.) held locally where everyday citizens can assemble around a variety of relevant topics, bouncing good ideas and even better solutions off of one another? I know there are conferences tailored to academics, students, business people, and even activists.
I guess I’m looking for something practical and basic that would leave me feeling hopeful about change and my role as a change agent. We all know that the tipping point only happens after a critical moment in a trend is reached and enough people have adopted a new way of doing supported by a new way of thinking. That’s the key, thinking differently about our role in the world.
In one of my favorite books, Ishmael, the narrator is looking for a teacher to help make meaning of his life, to tell him the story that helps him understand why things are the way they are. There are Leavers and Takers in the world, those who live by the rules that govern all species for generations and those who invent rules of convenience. But more than blame, the book is an instrument of change, helping the reader understand the vast, tacit narrative that compels us all to live as though the world were only made for us.
I’d like to be on a panel where people talk about the books they love as they relate to sustainability, eco-solutions, anything that empowers the people in the room.
I’m curious, too, what kind of panel discussions people would want to participate in? What issues? What ideas? What useful suggestions that have been tested and could be shared?
What would your conference look like? What would make you want to attend?