Eight months of consistent, arduous, diligent work (by communications major standards, of course) culminated in to a two-day conference event in Chicago last week called MCON14.
MCON is an event that gathers speakers from all over the country who all basically personify the next generation change-maker. The MCON audience (both online and in-person, by the way) hears from young cause activists, entrepreneurs, politicians, journalists and thinkers who are redefining their industries, their communities and our culture. Can you tell I’ve written a lot of copy about this?
In a word, MCON14 was enriching. The speakers were impressive and the the event itself was worth my secret mini panic attacks leading up to it. During the conference, I had the pleasure of working directly with the speakers in the Green Room, sponsored by Tumblr. Ever heard of it?
By the way, This is a good opportunity to offer a much-deserved shoutout to libawr from Tumblr. Besides being an incredibly cool and all-around neat human, she was instrumental in making the “Tumblr Room” a success. Check out mconideas for proof we were actually doing things besides eating snacks and taking selfies.
Here’s a GIF of me and my new friend, Liba:
(She taught me how to make GIFs, so I like to think we were pretty tight.)
Post MCON14, I’ve also had the pleasure of sifting through the surveys attendees filled out and figuring out how to turn the praises and complaints into tangible ways we can make MCON15 even more awesome and bind-blowing! Doing this has inspired me to list just a few of the moments that made MCON14 such a memorable experience for me.
1. Two filmmakers that did more than just talk.
What was first a brilliant idea to break up the speaker sessions and feature new content ended up being my favorite part of MCON. Mo Scarpelly from rakefilms moderated an inspiring discussion with fellow filmmaker Vanessa Black (blkflm). What made this session so spectacular was these two young people using storytelling and film to visibly create movements. I first heard of Mo over a year ago when I was involved with Eli Lilly’s global health work. Her film "EXPOSED" about an American struggling with MDR Tuberculosis moved me then and it clearly moved the audience when it was viewed by over 10,000 online participants. Vanessa is what I (in my head) have labeled the future of documentary filmmaking. Right after the conflict in Ukraine broke out, she left her cozy life in New York and hopped on a plane to Kiev, documenting the crisis. Check it out.
2. Journos Unite!
Admittedly, I’m a total journalism nerd. That being said, I was like a junior high school-boy, utterly infatuated with the cool girl when it came to the journalists and media folks we had at this conference. Every chance I got, I picked their brains on how they got into journalism and where they see the media industry going. Caira Conner from Mic.com (formerly known as PolicyMic) was brilliant and a genuinely kind person. Carrie Sheffield had a great line about journalism’s current state during her time on the Political Panel. She said that journalism is basically going through the “creative destruction phase” of transformation. Both of these writers, along with Tom Davidson from pbsdigitalstudios and elisehu from npr, helped restore and solidify my passions for journalism and media. Well done!
Four of my favorite MCON14 Speakers: Caira Conner, Tom Davidson, Liba Rubenstein, Justin Herman.
3. Team Bonding
The speakers and sessions were incredible, no doubt about it. But the behind-the-scenes staff-bonding time made this week a party. Beyond the actual parties and socials (which were amazing), we had some extra-curricular excursions, such as a late-night jaunt to the Korean Karaoke bar.
I’m so lucky to work with this gang. I mean, look at how much fun we’re having. And this was after putting on a big-ass conference! Achieve for the win.
Social Q&A for Politics Panel.
Q: Do conservative millennials generally feel like they can’t openly voice their opinions on social issues?
Carrie: I can’t speak for all millennial conservatives, but I know for myself I’ve never felt constrained. I support gay marriage and I’ve been very open about that. I think many millennial conservatives feel that way also. But I am in media and not elected office; I know people in elected office sometimes feel like they can’t express themselves for fear of retribution. This happens on both right and left…
Who says we can’t get along in politics? Read some of the questions the MCON14 political panel didn’t get to answer on stage.