The conference carousel continues. Today it’s Toronto, and even the pan-handlers are polite and courteous. I’m here for the Digital Leap conference, which begins tomorrow, and in the meantime I’m invited to the book launch of Ted Hart’s Nonprofit Guide to Going Green. Fitting for Earth Day, and the afternoon sun is spectacular.
The reception is held in the Board Room of the 54th floor of the TD Tower, and when I walk in to the sparsely attended event I am met by one of the 28 contributors to the book, and by a green bow-tied gray-haired man serving grilled baby lamb chops.
Ted Hart is a keynote for the conference, a pioneer in online fundraising, and true to form in this new era of collaboration, is within minutes suggesting partners for our business.
The walk to the hotel (The Gladstone, in the gritty, up and coming West Queen West part of town) is slow, pleasant. Hockey playoffs resonate off flat-screens in sports bars in the business end of town. Heading west, there are a proliferation of head shops touting bongs, tattoo parlors, and clothing boutiques. And then noise, at Cameron House.
It’s just edging past 7:30 pm, and it’s standing room only this Thursday, at least 65 people in this little live music bar. There’s a giant macramé lobster ant on the ceiling, and painted frescoes on the faux-ornate ceiling. And assorted mobiles of hand-made, hand-painted cowboy boots (including one of BarackObama) hang down from above, and line the walls, and a row of boots hang unevenly across the front of the small, slightly-raised, red-velvet curtained stage, where a jocular, sweaty, bearded young man is playing guitar and leading the crowd in a sing-a-long. Behind him a short man reaches up to pluck the stand-up bass, an older man in fedora and tweed is playing mandolin, and down in front a young woman accompanies the trio on piano.
“And there will always be a small time,” he sings, the crowd joining, “and there will always be a good time, when the 9 to 5’ers go to bed,”….it is an ode to imagination, to looking back down from the highs of success, to remembering your roots, and your community, no matter where this world takes us. And it is fitting. We are, after all, in the technology business, and the bells and whistles and tools are new and powerful and profound. And yet the purpose they serve—to connect people, to engage, to build a better community—is no different than it ever was. No different than instant friends, listening to music together, individually deciphering internally the same thing we’re all feeling together.