Thursday, September 24, 2009

Speaking at BAH

I spent a portion of Wednesday evening with some interesting people at Bakery After Hours (BAH) held with the support of the Nashoba Brook Bakery in West Concord, MA. Kim Novick (this is his creation) invited me to be part of the inaugural BAH-Slam, something akin to a poetry-slam but featuring people speaking about their passions (and without dim lighting and a smoke-filled room) instead of reciting verse. By the way, if you're in Eastern Massachusetts, Nashoba Brook Bakery's bread is available at some local retailers, and it's darn good.

I arrived in full cycle commuting regalia, complete with spandex, blinky lights, and my Seven Cycles messenger bag to add to my bike commuter "legit-ness". After performing my presto-chango into more fitting attire, I proceeded to blend in with the gathered people and talk a bit about what we were all there for.

I chatted with one of the other speakers, Gwen Acton (sharing a name with Concord's neighbor to the west) CEO of Vivo Group. It was nice to talk a bit and ramble on about what I was there for. I'm glad that my interest in what the "real economy" is all about v. the "shadow economy" of finance id not make her eyes glaze over. Thank you. I did not have the chance to chat with Vinnie Sestito, the closing speaker before we started other than a cursory "hello". That was OK as I was up on the stage and had an up close and personal experience of his passion for connecting people through conversation. I also had the privilege of meeting Harry Bartlett of Bartlett Interactive, one of the co-sponsors of the event and part of the entertainment, laying down some smooth blues riffs on his Fender Strat before we started. Harry's comments about the evening's events are in his Grow Blog.

It was fun to be invited to speak as the "sustainability/green" representative, considering my recent matriculation from recently accredited BGI. It was fun to think about what it is I would like to do with the education I just invested time and money in. More importantly, I said "yes" in an instance when I might have said "no", opening the possibilities associated with meeting new people.

I winged it. I talked a bit about my excitement about the interest in local food and local economic development, touching upon the concept of peak oil as an influencer of my belief that strong regional economies will be a necessity in the coming decades. I was quick to qualify my comments about peak oil; I was not there to be the bug-eyed alarmist seeking to scare them into action, but wanted to at least mention the concept. I was happy that some of the people started to talk amongst themselves about the concept of local economies, revealing deeply held assumptions about what local economic development is, and what level of development we hope to help the world attain. I did not have the chance to connect with this conversation...something to be remedied at another time.

I did have the pleasure of meeting Art Wu of Archimatica. He lives in the area and has a passion for determining how to create systems or suburbanites to connect and share car rides from 'burb to 'burb. Leveraging mobile technology is part of the plan, and considering the towns surrounding Boston between 128 and 495 are relatively affluent, odds are a high percentage of people have iPhones and Blackberries. I hope to see it develop into something with impact.

The ride home was great; longer than I thought, quite sultry for September, and a great way to decompress from the evening's activities. As I passed by the edge of the Cambridge Reservoir on the Lincoln/Lexington line, a small fox saw me coming with my bright headlights and trotted down the street in front of me for ~20 yards or so...I could hear the toenails clicking rapidly on the pavement. I bet the lack of noise associated with the lights was confusing.

The running fox capped off a wonderful evening of conversation and connection.

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