Last week, I attended the Feast Conference for the first time. I wasn't quite sure what to expect but it's certain that I, along with many other attendees, walked away feeling optimistic and empowered. I walked in on Joseph Cohen's talk reminding us how Edison's phonograph revolutionized music in a time where concerts were the only way to experience it. Likewise, our technology and tools have caught up to enable rich experiences spanning many industries.
The Feast conference in NYC was, in simplest terms, an intensely inspiring mashup of great thinkers who ran with an idea. For two days our audience listened, intermingled and collaborated with each other on topics of health care, poverty, conservation, public works, education, reform, and fresh spins on antiquated business models.
Some highlights from the Conference:
Partners In Health teamed up with the likes of The Arcade Fire to raise money through ticket sales and provide direct health care to the poor. In similar models, hip eye-wear maker Warby Parker donates a pair for each one sold.
Bre Pettis spoke about his MakerBot, the community supporting it, and future practical applications of desktop 3D printing (we are SUPER excited to get ours!).
Geoffrey West told us that the problem to excessive power consumption is urbanization, which also happens to be the solution (in efficiencies) in our ever growing global population.
Dan Barasch will harness light from the sun through mirrors to illuminate the worlds first underground park capable of photosynthesis in New York City.
Joshua Reich built an intuitive online bank from the drawbacks of traditional banking and decided not to make money from people's mistakes.
Catherine Rohr screens former criminals for a second chance in a transformational program that leverages their "business skills" to create legitimate careers.
Story Pirates banks on the fact that learning must be memorable and relies on original stories written by children to produce theatrical skits.
Scott Heiferman from Meetup.com has enabled over 80 million RSVPs to people who wouldn't have otherwise crossed paths.
Why were all these people in the same room? Because at the basis of every project was a fundamental desire to do good. In fact, a few entrepreneurs designed their business models specifically to be replicated and built upon by others. In their train of thought, failure is an important component in the cycle of iteration and improvement. They agree that open collaboration is vital to their businesses, and have created small communities and subcultures along the way.
If technology has taken us from the phonograph to streaming music, then surely we can harness that brilliance to improve some of society's inequities. As Joshua Reich from Simple says, "look to highly regulated industries...they're ripe for innovation". The solutions could be right under our noses.