Around here, everyone wants to change the world, but it seems that late-September / early-October is the season when a lot of those hopes take shape — if the conference schedule is anything to judge by. Here’s a (very) short list of conferences pushing change in the coming months:
Clinton Global Initiative
The Clinton Foundation holds the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative on Sept. 23-25 in New York City. CGI is notable in that the conference has a very strong focus on commitments for action from corporations and global leaders — although the track record of delivering on those commitments is debatable.
The Feast is a young but recently expanded conference, also being held in New York, Oct. 3-5. With its Social Innovation Week, The Feast brings together talks, workshops, and hackathons featuring everyone from Cirque du Soleil creative directors, NASA technologists, startup CEOs like Bre Pettis, and more. “We’re done waiting for the world to change,” states the conference Web site. “The Feast Conference gathers remarkable entrepreneurs, radicals, doers and thinkers that bring their talents to the table to make life better. Our attendees don’t just sit back. They’ll be rolling up their sleeves at roundtables this October to respond to challenges issued by visionary speakers who dare to ask the question, What does the world need now?” Again, the proof’s in the follow-through. It would be great for the site to feature the results of previous conferences more strongly, if anything.
The Social Capital Markets conference — which bills itself as sitting at “the intersection of money and meaning” — is also held in early October, slated for Oct. 1-4 here in San Francisco. SoCap is “dedicated to increasing the flow of capital toward social good,” but has proved slightly unexciting, from all reports, and fronts a mixed bag of panelists so far. If anything, it’s the money that appears to be under-represented. 2011 attendee Nell Edgington has a good account of issues at last year’s conference.
Of course, all of the above raises the question of whether chin-wags like these are really the places from which change will emerge. I do think it’s largely a bottom-up issue, as The Feast holds, but I also think it can’t happen without support from the top, as the CGI is well aware. Stay tuned.