What a week! Before we get to the highlights, let’s get to the shout outs! Special thanks to one Donell Creech, master and commander! His vision for Blacks in Technology was a complete success and we are proud to have been a part of his team’s groundbreaking efforts. Thank you too Hugh Forrest, Director of the SXSW Interactive Festival. He wrote me a personal note before I made the journey to Austin and that just set things off! A lot of people spent a lot of time working collaboratively to create the remarkable South by Southwest experience, we thank you all.
Adventure is near the beginning of the dictionary, and that is where this story will start too.
Monique was an all-star on a panel about the provocative Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained that included academics, film and cultural critics, filmmakers and activists. The room was PACKED and the conversation at times animated. *Disclaimer: the discussion was far superior to the actual film. That is not just my opinion, it is [reel] fact.
My panel was inspired by real people making real-time decisions about their health and livelihoods. Have to give it to my shredded counterparts for flexing on the shared mic and inspiring my early morning “vacation workouts.” I contemplated doing hanging abs from Adonis’ biceps but that might have been awkward, so I refrained.
Steve Garfield framed the SXSW experience as the sum of serendipitous meetings. We agree Steve, we agree. How’s meeting one’s cousin, James, for the very first time for $1,000, Alex? Oh! Daily Double. And then, of course, there will always be that time in which you meet your neighbor from Harlem while awaiting your tropical protein smoothie at a local Austin cafe. Rushing cabs and then sharing them with Microsoft developers and social media managers and journalists and literal world changers. Or, Sara Reinertsen on Trinity Street at 4PM — we both serve as ambassadors for the Women’s Sports Foundation. She couldn’t talk long as she was preparing for her own presentation –The Bionic Athlete– and an early morning run. Commitment.
We danced with the lead designer of standout app foursquare but were too nervous to two-step our way over to NY Times columnist David Carr who was really feeling the beat. Go ‘head with your bad self Dave, I see you. Maybe, in the tradition of SXSW, we’ll meet him randomly in the street here in New York. Or maybe it’ll be in Newark, home of the “Social Media Mayor” Cory Booker who we were excited to street meet. Cory is tall. Tall man swag. And brilliant too. His presentation was rated “top talk” and we know why. We were there. Check it out here. Speaking of brilliance –two words: Mae Jemison. Here are another two: Interstellar Travel. That’s what she said. Her panel may have been our favorite as she’s made history –first woman of color in space– and continues making it with plans for the 100 year Starship: Yes, ”Daring makes a difference.”
Standing in line for the bathroom and being recognized as the “fitness girl from Forbes” always proves entertaining. It is a little less awkward when in broad daylight waiting for a grilled cheese sandwich though. It was tasty especially with the unicorn grilled on top. You might hear of Austin food truck lore and I am here to tell you that Grits and Greens prepared by local farmer Hoover Alexander is the best in town. Delicious, nutritious.
We were on our feet a lot. But promise of learning how to really play poker from a professional caused me to sit. Enter Edwardo Jackson, son of the 206. That’s the Seattle, WA interchange for those unfamiliar with the Emerald City. We sat for photographer Robert Fogarty and the Dear World campaign. Actually, that’s not true. We stood again while he took our photos.
But then we ran when a Twitter friend told us that a clip from our movie was being shared by Hugh Hefner’s daughter Christie Hefner, Executive Chairman of Canyon Ranch Enterprises, across town at another SXSW panel. Her panel, sponsored by the world’s largest PR firm Edelman, explored “the research and anecdotes of how digital content can transform health, change attitudes and behaviors and turn knowledge into action through compelling storytelling across mediums.” How’s that for social media and contagious content!
I started with thanks, I’ll end with thanks. To those people doing good things for their communities and the planet, thank you. Personal best high jump high fives to scholar, activist and athlete Terri Givens of Take Back the Trail; the good people of organic neighborhood market The Boxcar Grocer in Atlanta, Georgia; the peace bringing RootWork of Naya Jones; and to the dedicated and impactful curation of Ashara Ekundayo of HUB Oakland. To those leading inspired and inspiring lives, big side-to-side bear hugs for you.
We look forward to next year. Until then, get it in where you can fit it in! –Andia