What do you get when you cross Burning Man with a Green Business Conference?

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Green Business CampThere are tons of green conferences these days, and to be sure lots of great information to be learned at them, people to connect with, ideas to germinate, funding to be sought. And yet, something’s missing.

Don’t get me wrong, magic has been made and minds blown with just Powerpoint and a good presentation. I don’t know about you, but how many times do you find yourself thinking, “I have something to add to what they’re saying,” or “Gah! I wish they’d do a session on *this* topic!”

Green Business Camp, done for the first time a few weeks back in South San Francisco at the Green V Sustainable Center, a creative reinvention of a former car dealership site, may be just the antidote you’re seeking. It’s what they call an “unconference.” As in the opposite of all the trappings of your usual conference. [social_buttons]

It began with everybody having the chance to write their own ideas for a session, then we all pinned them up on a wall, each getting 6 votes for the topics that drew our interest. The organizers then tallied votes, including bundling together similar ideas, and then magically, a cluttered wall full of dozens of ideas became a grid of four sessions, four topics to choose from in each.

Topics ranged across the spectrum, from electric vehicles to how to get a green job,  collaboration to how to use social media in relation to your green business.

Paul Hawken then set the tone for the day, giving his ever unique, leading edge, and funny perspective on the importance of green business.

Each session was different in terms of its structure, as the topic originator was also the leader of the session, helping set the tone. For me, it ranged from highly organized and led to more hot potato group discussions that dashed from subject to subject. Each way had its own merit, and though I would have liked the sessions longer (In conversation with the organizers, they’d thought people might run out of things to talk about if longer! Changing next year, I imagine.) I got something from every one.

I even found myself being a pseudo panelist in the social media based conference, as it’s an area I have a lot of experience in and had just the day before been at the social media focused Inbound Marketing Summit.

The organizers then took an interesting turn at second half of the day: Taking advantage of having a collection of so many people with so many connections, they gave us all two brown paper lunch bags, and told us to write on each something we wanted. Then, for the rest of the day, people could look these bags over and drop their information in them if they could help with what the bag was asking for. I was interested in finding funding for my new employer, 3rdWhale Media, and got three cards! Other people seemed to be getting numerous cards in their bags too.

How refreshing to be able to ask for what you want, in a low pressure way, and have the treat of coming back and finding people willing to help with it.

This is the first of what I imagine will be several of these events.

Readers: What sustainability related conferences (or unconferences) have you been to lately that inspired you, got your attention, and you think we should know about? Comment below please.
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