Last week, I attended a day-long conference on social innovation presented by Plywood People, an Atlanta-based organization defined by its statement, “We will be known by the problems we solve.” Presentations ranged from helping brands build communities for profit and positive impact to urban gardening. No matter the topic, the speakers all shared a commonality: a commitment to social responsibility that they practice through their businesses, organizations and lives. All were very inspirational; several were innovative. While this was no TED conference, there were some things to be learned and borrowed for meetings needing fresh ideas.
The pace of the presentations was nicely done. A speaker using a lively video to illustrate his story was followed by an informal conversation between two people seated at a highboy table onstage. They were followed by a photographer who showed before and after slides that were powerful examples of her transition from photojournalist to humanitarian photographer focused on capturing stories that transcend a person’s circumstances to reveal more about their strength and character. Then, there was a question and answer session, based on questions submitted beforehand. The juxtaposition of sessions in the comfortable auditorium created a stimulating flow and community feeling often missing in classroom-to-classroom seminars.
Lunch was outside in the parking lot of the venue, where food trucks gather one day a week. It was a nice, easy tie-in for the planner and a fun break for attendees, who networked as they waited in the lines and watched members of a local dance company—invited by the planner—perform.
Back in the auditorium, easel-mounted sponsor posters with large QB codes drew people downloading special offers created specifically for the conference.
In the hallway, a few other sponsors offered product samples and information. This wasn’t a trade show, but clearly, the organization knew how to hug a sponsor.
* Check out more ways food trucks are influencing food and beverage in the October/November issue of Rejuvenate magazine.