The Feast 2012

Stop waiting for the world to change. Change it and the world will follow.

The Feast Conference 2012

The Feast Conference, Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, Oct. 1-3, 2012.

Started in 2008, The Feast has been fostering a community of remarkable people that make the world work better. I met Co-founder Jerri Chou back in January of 2011. At the time, Jerri and co. had hosted their flagship event, the annual Feast Conference, for three years and announced they’d be taking a break to rethink the direction of the organization.

Jerri described to me her vision for bringing back The Feast in 2012 with a new focus on in-person collaborations and public initiatives. She and I would soon join forces and spend the next year and half developing–and eventually producing–a series of events  during the first week of October to celebrate social innovation.

The Feast 2012 featured:

The Feast Conference
Oct. 3-5, 2012, A new kind of conference.

The Feast Worldwide
Oct. 5, 2012, 7pm local time,
A global day of action.

The Feast Pavilion
Oct. 6, 2012, A public festival in NYC.


“The Feast’s approach is clear and focused on solution design and enterprise creation.”

“This invite-only gathering for innovative do-gooders has matured into the kind of event where you see people before they get a TED Talk.”

“Hey, any conference where Arcade Fire does acoustic “Wake Up” is automatically cosmic.”
—Stephen Levy, WIRED


The Feast Conference

We have the tools to create a brighter future, but we need to start building it now. The Feast Conference gathers remarkable entrepreneurs, radicals, doers and thinkers that bring their talents to the table to make life better. Our attendees don’t just sit back. They’ll be rolling up their sleeves at roundtables this October to respond to challenges issued by visionary speakers who dare to ask the question, “What does the world need now?”

Jerri and I worked throughout the year, rethinking the conference format to create a 2 1/2 day immersive experience for 350 attendees. There were three main elements that informed our vision.

1. Looking forward – We focused on a brighter future over past accomplishments by working with speakers to present broad challenges which we built all programming around.

2. Creative mess – We tried to create an environment that was much more suitable for hands-on collaboration by heavily customizing a raw venue with roundtables.

3. Action – We strived to produce a dynamic final workshop day that really pushed the envelope as far as participation goes at these sorts of events.

Speakers included James Adams (Deputy Chief Technologist, NASA), Neil Blumenthal (Co-Founder, Warby Parker), Arcade Fire (Grammy Award-Winning Band), Bre Pettis (CEO, Makerbot), Gillian Ferrabee (Creative Director, Cirque du Solei), and Paul Farmer, MD, PhD (Founding Director, Partners In Health).

Partners included Intel, Microsoft Bing, Warby Parker, Absolut, ARUP, Robin Hood, Control Group, Partners in Health, GE, and treehugger.

The cornerstone of the conference was the final workshop day which involved facilitating roundtables of attendees as they responded to the challenges issued by speakers. Participants closed the day by pitching their prototype solutions onstage.


The Feast Worldwide

Jerri and I heavily discussed how a conference could move beyond its four walls and incite motivated people around the globe to participate. The Feast Worldwide was a “worldwide dinner party” that took place on the final day of The Feast Conference.

Over 500 satellite dinners were held in cities around the world at 7pm local time to create a distributed, roaming dinner party. Conference challenges were released ahead of time and the livestream was made available to all participants. The primary goal for each dinner was to select a challenge (that they could watch as it was presented live at The Feast Conference) and to respond to that challenge by identifying a potential project over dinner.

We created a “Dinner Toolkit” to help walk participants through an ideation process if they were seeking more structure and coordinated with key groups to host larger, official hubs in target cities.


The Feast Pavilion

Out of the gate, we knew that we wanted to have a public event in New York to complement The Feast Conference. With the help of some amazing producers, we selected a raw space in the Lower East Side and worked with installation artists and community organizations to put on a one-day public festival of art and possibility.

This final format involved hosting The Feast Conference afterparty as a preview for the space, a day open to almost 2,000 members of the public exploring the work of artists interpreting innovators, and a finale pavilion party with live DJs and a screening of Girl Walk // All Day.

Tagged: social innovation, the feast, the feast conference

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