Updated: Jul 15, 2019
Pet pigs, yoga with goats, acrobats . . . and the world’s futurists
The future is creative - that’s my main take-away from last week’s C2 gathering in Montréal.
For the uninitiated, C2 is not your average conference. In fact, that’s the wrong word for it altogether. It’s really an experience. At first sight it’s hard to piece together, but in hindsight that was probably not the point.
Whimsical hammocks and swings punctuate the venue to inspire, presumably, a relaxed environment for the exchange of ideas. Cirque du solei acrobats dangle from the ceiling. Blue Man Group wanders between participants. Trendy DJ’s set the tune to transition between sessions. Oh, and the goats. Yes, yoga with goats. Who knew, it’s a thing! They are very cute.
Then there was Christophe, the pig. Yes, a registered participant attending with his dutiful owner (who doesn’t eat pork, unsurprisingly - I asked). So you’re wandering the corridors, taking it all in, and there’s a pig on a leash! By day three you say, sure, why not? You’re starting to get the vibe.
So where’s the substance? In eclectic pockets dispersed throughout. From the chance encounters to convening’s that range from semi-conventional and hands-on to immersive and obscure. Some particularly inspiring interactions include Dr. Martine Rothblatt discussing engineering feats from lab grown organs to designing the first electric helicopter. Yep, battery powered air transport. It’s happening!
And Daan Roosegaarde. Wow, talk about the beauty of design meeting the mother of necessity. Stunning city installments that filter smog (and generate smog rings), kites creating green energy, 1930’s floodgates retrofitted to reflect car lights with zero energy use. In essence, future proofing humanity . . . more of this please!
Then I got to roll-up my sleeves (literally) in Aithan Shapira session - my personal favorite. Through imaginatively enlisting props, specifically play dough; he led a captivated room through what it means to develop a culture of innovation. Observe change, and change so others will change. Our ability to do so is what invites innovation. Powerful tools to create cultures for a rapidly changing world.
Throw in artificial intelligence, performing arts, advancements in biotech, virtual reality filmmakers, digital media, silent art, story doing . . .I could go on but the diversity, depth and breath of offerings should be coming into focus.
This all stacks-up to a convening of the world’s futurists, collectively provoking us to ponder the questions of our time. Creatively. That was the real differentiator for me. c.r.e.a.t.i.v.i.t.y.
What do I mean? Well, if we accept the assumption that humanity exists in precarious times, be it from social to environmental upheaval (pick your topic, sadly society is replete with examples . . .) then it’s safe to assume the actions bringing civilization to the brink are NOT the ones that will bring us back from this tipping point.
To incite the words of a 20th century Italian playwright, "for everything to stay the same, everything must change." C2 pushes this comfort zone, curating an atmosphere that inspires us to think differently. At least that was my experience.
As someone working in the social + environmental impact space, I began to see the collision of acrobats and farm animals (I’m oversimplifying) as a broader invitation to think outside the parameters of traditional networks and professional confines to develop a arsenal of new tools to advance change.
Whether you attended C2 or not, its surly a methodology we can all apply toward positive impact. Creativity. And drawing on the spirit of C2’s closing speaker, Spike Lee, “some good ol’ Brooklyn hustle!”