With the return of the fall cold weather and the brightly changing colors of the leaves, there is also the annual return of the PopTech conference in Camden, Maine. This three day event connects some of the brightest and most innovative social change individuals from around the world for realtime sharing of ideas, problems and active solutions.
The theme for this year's conference was Brilliant Accidents, Necessary Failures and Improbable Breakthroughs which rung true with the temperature of the global environment on many issues. Static Photography photographer Kris Krüg was the official event documentarian and captured all the events, speakers and sessions during the week.
Hosted in the historical Camden Opera House, PopTech is an event that pushes the envelope around the concept of big idea conferences. Motivated by the ability to connect session speakers with the audience, PopTech creates an environment that facilitates conversations for world change to occur. This year's conference schedule was broken down into specific sessions with titles such as Thinking Wrong, How (Not) to Change the World, Noise in the System, Edge of Exploration, Human Dimensions, Collaborations for Change, Gulf Stories, Teaching and Learning, Social Lives and Social Data, Corruption Deception and Perception and Mindshifts. Each session housed 4-7 speakers that shared stories that tied to the session's theme.
There were so many moments of inspiration, fascination and motivation from the three days in the Maine that it is quite hard to pinpoint the best of the best. :)
Here is a photographic recap of the PopTech 2010 conference
Heather Knight is a robot's dream. She is a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute and runs the Marilyn Monrobot Labs in NYC. Her presentation included her helpful friend Data, the robot.
Riley Crane was part of the MIT Red Balloon Challenge Team that won the DARPA network challenge. The challenge consisted of finding the locations of ten randomly placed red balloons throughout the continental United States.
James O'Brien, a 2009 PopTech Social Innovations Fellow and principal of the Brooklyn Community Arts and Media High School, introduced the Own Your Future collaborative project between PopTech Accelerator and BCAM High School. This program would provide year long training to students in art, design, technology, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.
John Legend is a legendary musician who is trying to put his level of activism back into his music. He shared his music with the audience as well as his passionate involvement with the public education system documentary film Waiting for Superman.
Gale McCullough told the audience about her path into citizen science using the photo-based sharing tool Flickr. Having discovered matching humpback whale flukes in two photos that were taken thousands of miles apart, Gale revolutionized our thinking about the oceans and whale migration.
Azeem Hill is a senior at a West Philadelpia High School and the co-captain of the West Philly X Team, which consisted of students, teachers and mentor Simon Hauger all from the West Philadelphia area. Amazingly the XTeam made it all the way to the semi-finals of the XPrize Auto Challenge, after putting in years of work and beating the MIT team multiple times.
Photos: Jad Abumrad, host/producer of Radiolab, shares his love of sound and the aesthetic of failure with the PopTech audience; attendee's hands at PopTech; Siddhartha Mukherjee, doctor, cancer researcher and author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, discusses the history and origin of one of the oldest illnesses.
Reggie Watts is a performance artist, an MC and a comedian. His lyrical tales of lyrics mixed with comedic relief about Camden, Maine were a welcomed break in the conference sessions.
Susan Casey, author of The Wave, is fascinated by one of the most powerful forces on the earth, the oceanic wave. In her session she shared the power and the myth behind some of the world's most frightening kind of waves.
Photos: Elizabeth Dunn, a researcher at University of British Columbia, delved into the age old discussions if more problems and less joy are associated with more money; golden fall leaves; Josh Nesbit is the executive director of FrontlineSMS: Medic which provides mobile support for health workers.
Stephanie Coontz happily reveals the secrets to happy marriages. As the director of research and public education for the Council on Contemporary Families and the author of Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage, she would know that even distribution of marital responsibilities between the two people in the marriage often makes for happier times.
Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton share a very special and emotional friendship. Jennifer wrongly accused Ronald of rape while she was in university. Ronald was released upon completion of a DNA test and tentatively befriended Jennifer over their shared betrayal by the real person who committed the crime, the judicial system who had failed everyone and the loss of their earlier years of living. They share their story in their collaborative memoir Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption.
Alan Rabinowitz is the president/CEO of Panthera. His extraordinary tale of saving large cats is inspiring story of his own personal triumph through hard times and love of wildlife. Alan received a standing ovation after his session talk. :)
Ellen Rowan, a longtime supporter and volunteer for PopTech, shows off her creative decoration of her nametag.
Photos: April Smith and the Great Picture Show closed the entire conference with their infectious 1940s sounding music from their Kickstarter funded first album, Songs for a Sinking Ship; Data the robot; Eli Pariser, former executive director of MoveOn.org, talked about algorithms that organize large amounts of information.
Pieter Hoff is a forward thinking environmentalist who showed the audience his water battery called the Groasis Waterboxx. This device collects water from the air and stores it to be later delivered to needed plants.
Musician Imogen Heap surprised the audience with the introduction of her new film project called Love the Earth with social entrepreneur Thomas Ermacora. She also graced the audience with a performance of one of her most popular songs 'Hide and Seek'.
Longtime PopTech supporter and attendee Dustin Rowan with fellow PopTech attendee.
Static Photography studio manager Danielle Sipple in the green room of the PopTech conference.
Asil Shaar, Nour Al-Arda and Asil Abulil are 9th graders who have their home in the West Bank Al-Askar refugee camp. Alongside their teacher Jameela Khaled they developed a walking cane for the blind that uses ground sensors to alert of changes in the walking ground. These four women won an award in applied engineering at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Here they are picture with Andrew Zolli, Hayat Sindi and their walking cane for the blind.
Brian Elliot understands the immediate need for the recognition of egual civil and human rights for people of the LGBTQ community. His project Friendfactor is based upon the notion that we all have someone we know that is affected by this injustice and when we connect, we can help everyone together.
Photos: Hayat Singi, PopTech 2009 Fellow; PopTech attendees; PopTech volunteer
In November 2006 Larry Smith, founder of Smith Magazine, asked his readers to write a Six Word Memoir. This project has morphed into an emotional revolution and people continue to write their own six words.
For the Wednesday session of the PopTech conference, photographer Kris Krüg set sail on the Appledore boat for an adventure that included talks by David de Rothschild and Graham Hill.
Patrick Flanagan is a musical engineer that is making the robots work for him. With the help of Wiimotes, controllers and a glove that looks like it came out of Mad Max, Flanagan is able to control his percussion robots with precision.
Photos: smiling PopTech employee; Ok Go, musical group; Graham Hill, founder of Treehugger.com, has launched on a new project on the PopTech stage called LifeEdited.org, where he is crowd-sourcing changes in his life to lesson his carbon footprint.
Donald Ingber, founder/director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, is currently studying the dismissed design flaws that could turn upside down the practice of bioengineering.
Beth Shapiro is an evolutionary biologist and PopTech 2010 Science Fellow who is researching the basis for extinction in certain species. Fascinated by why certain species have survived and why some are no longer here, Beth is leading the way to help the world in species preservation.
Andrew Zolli is the longtime curator and official MC of the PopTech conference.
Photos: Poptech balloons; Reggie Watts, musician/MC; plant in Camden, Maine
Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras spoke about her intense creative experience while making her last two films, My Country, My Country and The Oath. These are two films out of a film trilogy about the emotional aftermath of 9/11.
Ok Go is a musical group that has succeeded in large part due to their musical abilities but also to their intelligent and innovative music videos. Their session performance showcased their diverse talent from acoustics, to classical bell playing to the latest installation of their musical video archives.
Photographer Kris Krüg enjoying a moment on the Appledore boat in Camden, Maine.
So another year of PopTech has passed us by but luckily the world will be able to enjoy this year's sessions in their yearly presentation of videos that will be coming out soon! Until then we will be getting our minds and hearts ready for next year's emotionally packed conference. Enjoy the fall season in the meantime! :)
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