For me, the SVC annual gathering is not a conference. It is a family reunion and one that has open arms to anyone who is committed to making positive change happen through their work or business. I saw the SVC community embrace who they have been and who they becoming as a newly merged organization. The Love Economy events and the Hospitality Sweet as well as the rebranding presentation and addresses from the new executive director had huge positive ripple effects throughout the gathering. Our own Lori Hanau with an amazing group of inspired movers and shakers had a way over-sold crowd come to the Brownsville Community Culinary Center to experience love in practice. First, there was love of nourishing oneself and one's community through this amazing center. Their work of providing amazing meals and culinary training to residents of this neighborhood is truly inspiring. Co-hosted by Julie Fahnnestock, Greg Hemmings and Sierra Flanagan, Lori opened the space to invite 105 attendees into Circle to speak and be heard about why we cared to be there, what we are already doing that is loving in our work and what is our next action toward developing greater love in our workplaces. We were nourished again by music, by candlelight, by giving attention to our breath and holding space for each other as we spoke. How could love not become woven into so many conversations after that? Almost every table I sat at, someone there would be speaking about either that event or the stories shared in the Love Story Slam which featured stories of love in action in the work people are doing that the Love Economy team produced and hosted Friday night.
The desire to authentically connect personally was there for me both my first time attending as well as this time. But the openness I felt and prevailing hope and inspiration was much stronger. I think the clarity of vision, humility, and strength of the new executive director and how she honored where Social Venture Network (SVN) and the Investors Circle (IC), now Social Venture Circle (SVC) is going and where it came from was hugely inspiring. I also felt a hopefulness and a willingness to engage in tough conversations both as a whole group together as well as in the sessions I attended. Valerie Red Horse Mohl role modeled openness, deep regard for the ancestry of both the organization as well as the land we were gathering on and the people who first stewarded that land.
The Hospitality Sweet was a place for all of us to celebrate this rare and beautiful yearly opportunity to be together with deep kindred spirits both new and old. The music, dancing, and conversations were some of the deepest and most fun both at the Hospitality Sweet itself, but also preparing for it even hours ahead. The spirit of deeply and joyfully connecting really permeated the whole gathering once dinner was over and we all began to find each other for a drink or that conversation we wanted to make space for once the sessions were over. There is a celebratory joy and playfulness and even a bit of mischief in terms of letting loose with each other in and around the Hospitality Sweet. We are completely real as well as silly which makes the evening times together so important to how we show up together during the day in the more traditionally work oriented sessions. There was dancing the night away in costumes and glitter, gathering together for libations right after dinner and late night conversations well into the wee hours of the morning. Those kinds of deep connection spaces felt like the fertile social soil needed for building deeper relationships with folks who are brimming with innovative, disruptive, bold ideas for how their businesses or work can be an agent of positive change.