BEA WRAY: Savannah’s Geekend ignites imagination and impact

Have you ever had your brain so full of ideas and possibilities that you literally felt you couldn’t fit in one more wisdom nugget?

Have you ever had your heart so full of passion and purpose you thought you would explode?

Have you ever been surrounded by hundreds of people all teeming with those same feelings, engaging with others to pursue new challenges, making opportunities happen and pushing boundaries to the edge?

If so, chances are you attended Geekend last week and are now what we affectionately call a “Geekender.”

Throughout the action-packed event, “thank you’s” and “congratulations” for hosting Geekend filled the air like sand gnats during a summer dusk at low tide but were more welcome. I’m always a fan of gratitude; so I was thrilled to hear the appreciation and see Twitter light up with hundreds of bits of enthusiasm.

Yet “congratulations” didn’t fit. Sure, a team of Creative Coast staffers and volunteers worked tirelessly for months to organize, prepare and put on three days of revolutionary talks, intellectual interaction and visions for the future, but “congratulations” just felt like the wrong word for hosting Geekend.

Hosting Geekend is not like running a marathon; it’s more akin to riding a horse on Daufuskie’s pristine beaches. Every vision in sight is pure eye candy while the means of seeing such wonders is simultaneously physically thrilling.

When the ride is over, you realize the horse is a thoroughbred and its eagerness to get back on the track abounds. That’s what hosting Geekend feels like to me.

What makes Geekend so incredible are the local and global attendees who came from Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, New York, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Greenville, Charleston. Ages ranged from three years old to the 80’s, and attendees shared experiences from Sweden, Estonia, Australian, Korea and everywhere in between.

The energy, engagement and excitement of the Geekenders powers the conference from start to finish. Their inquisitive insights and piercing intellect make Geekend a valuable learning and sharing experience for everyone, from artistic designers and savvy programmers with years of innovation experience to the newcomers seeking to learn more about the creative economy and its exciting trends like the maker movement and equity crowd funding.

Take Amanda Fox, for example: This forward thinking mother of three kids 6, 4, and 2 months not only teaches full time but is also hosting a student film festival. Amanda literally beams with excitement for learning, sharing and growing.

She came to Geekend to collect ideas and inspiration for motivating the next generation of engaged collaborative doers.

Geekend speaker Neil Gershenfeld of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms lit fires of inspiration under brilliant Gulfstream engineers. This is not surprising as Gershenfeld is heralded as a modern day Leonardo by Museum of Science and Industry Chicago, and Prospect Magazine named him one of the nation’s top 100 public intellectuals.

Engagement is what gives Geekend power.

Jason Premo, an AGLN Fellow with The Aspen Institute and CEO and co-founder of ADEX Machining Technologies, asked a few pointed questions during the Friday night Pitch Circus, then made an equity investment on the spot.

When was the last time you gave a five minute talk and walked away with $50,000?

Hospitality trumps hype at Geekend; so friendships form quickly and easily. For example, two entrepreneurs who connected in a question and answer session bonded as they learned they are both cancer survivors.

Geekend ignites the imagination. Since job creation is the best poverty antidote, Geekend is in many ways the anti-poverty seminar for ten years out. Its impact on the local economy was instant and will be felt for years to come here in Savannah.

Of equal importance, the bang of Geekend is being heard worldwide thanks to writers, editors and radio personalities from CNN, Fast Company, Tech Crunch and the Wall Street Journal who attended.

We’re already saddling up for Geekend 2015. At Saturday night’s keynote talk, we announced tickets were on sale for Geekend 2015, and by Sunday morning the first tickets were sold to someone in Chicago.

Mark your calendars for next year’s event and be a part of the movement.

Source: Savannah Morning News.