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CreativeMornings Summit Camp 2018 Highlights

“We believe in giving a damn.“

In recent weeks, you may have seen pictures of a life-sized unicorn with water coming out of its horn, s’mores roasting over a campfire, and a rainbow parade following a marching band. It was all part of our third bi-annual CreativeMornings Summit, this year celebrating our 10th anniversary. For three days, we reveled in the generous work of our organizers at a summer camp in Iroquois Springs, NY, with over 250 people from 89 chapters and 32 countries.

We called it Summit Camp.

At HQ, we consider the Summit to be a crucial part of our work — a year of planning for an epic three days of celebrating, learning, and connecting. After witnessing the generosity of our CreativeMornings organizers and the impact they create in their local communities throughout the year — we need an in-person experience to show what they mean to us. Coming together to learn, share best-practices, support each other, and ensure that Slack avatars are the big-hearted humans that give the best hugs is an anchor to this community.

We’re excited to share the magic of the Summit and how this incredible event was made possible.

The wisdom of us

We packed a month’s worth of knowledge, fun, and wisdom into three days. When the brain overflowed, our hearts filled up, and when our hearts couldn’t take anymore, we rested by a campfire under the stars.

Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering and founder of Thrive Labs, gave a master class on how to create purposeful gatherings.

The moment she was handed the mic, the room went silent. She owned the room, with a kind of sweet and firm radiance, that had the community latching onto every word. We laughed, hugged, and cried. Everyone reflected on their personal process for bringing together their local creative community and ways to level it up.

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Ingrid Fetell Lee, author of Joyful, spoke on the science of joy. She shared the different elements that create joy and helped our organizers think about the possibilities in expanding joy at their events. Happy dances, hugs, and high-fives ensued.

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We reflected and turned inward with sound meditation practitioner Sara Auster. Collectively focusing on our breathing and letting the insights from the morning digest and seep into our being, was a perfect practice to slow down together.

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Business coach Heath Ellis talked about how to think of business as a form of creative self-expression. He encouraged the community to not look at business and creativity as two separate things, but rather to build a bridge between the two which they are both enriched by each other.

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Best-selling author and founder of the altMBA, Seth Godin, gave a generous two hour Q&A, answering a range of questions about topics like business models, dealing with a bad boss, making change happen, and the importance of focusing on a minimal viable audience.

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Jessica Orkin and Jonas Nwuke of SYPartners shared compelling questions and insights on identities—what do people see about you and what don’t they see?

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Patrick Filler from Harvest and Collin Whitehead from Dropbox took the stage for a few minutes to share their love for the community, why they showed up, and how they want to support the organizers. Patrick showcased his secret talent in creating amazing cocktails for our organizers and Colin was one of the judges for the Dropbox Lakeside Legends Showdown.

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Then, the community took the stage. Six organizers gave lighting talks for a bolt of inspiration.

Tara Segall from CreativeMornings/StPete is on a mission for zero waste. At each event, she encourages attendees to BYOM (bring your own mug). At each event, there are lovely photos of all the playful cups that people bring. They also have comprehensive recycling options and composting in a closed-loop system that directly benefits the local community.

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RJ Owen from CreativeMornings/Denver has a deep understanding—and love—of people. He taps into this knowledge to help develop and build organizational systems for the chapter’s workflows.

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Maria Linares from CreativeMornings/Bogota realized that the in-kind partnerships in Colombia were not part of the cultural norm compared to other countries. Over the years, she developed thoughtful in-kind partnership models that mutually benefit the local community and the local supporters.

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Trish Ang from CreativeMornings/Oakland brings together audiences and speakers who elevate the diverse voices in her city: freedom fighters, activists, change makers, and leaders.

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Co-organizers Sofia Donner and Valentina Piquerez Eguren from CreativeMornings/Montevideo craft gatherings that feel tailor-made for their local community. Each event embodies the local culture and traditions, from translating all communications into Spanish and adding delightful custom touches.

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When our hearts were full and minds were overflowing with ideas, we used the remaining energy for the closing party and danced the night away.

Supported by generosity

In these photos, we want you to see what is possible when like-minded people from all corners of the world come together to celebrate creativity and community.

We want you to see the kinds of companies that show up for a mission like ours and support it fully — not just by placing logos everywhere but by actually being there in-person, talking with our hosts, delivering inspiring keynote messages, and really listening to what the community needs.

Our partners made a significant financial contribution to make the Summit possible. A heartfelt thank you to:

Global Partners: MailChimp, WordPress.com, and Adobe

Presenting Partners: Harvest and Dropbox

Photo Partner: B&H Photo Video

Event Partners: Red Bull and Grizzly

Video Partner: KERTIS

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For the last nine-and-a-half years, MailChimp has been a champion of CreativeMornings. They are our global partner for communications and — fun fact — we were the first organization they sponsored.

MailChimp is currently beta-testing their new postcard feature, so they decided to bring it to life at camp!

Organizers were able to send postcards to each others’ bunks; we also sent over 300 of them to addresses around the world.

Adobe is our global partner for creative tools, and together we’re launching FieldTrips — a platform for in-person, hands-on learning with your local community. We offered four FieldTrips on the final afternoon: a photo walk using your cell phone, stop-motion food photography, emboidery, and singing with a group.

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Our Community Manager, Julie Schneider, led a whirlwind, one-hour lesson in embroidery, creating merit badges to commemorate milestones and achievements of all kinds.

Aundre Larrow, photographer, and former Adobe Creative Resident, lead an iPhone photo walk, sharing tips on how to use what you’ve got.

Aaron Bernstein is one of the newest Adobe Creative Residents and also a stop-motion food photographer. He taught a FieldTrip on his process and allowed organizers to put their learnings to the test. And they got to eat s’mores.

Musician James Sills took a group of people and revealed the power of singing together. They later sang at the closing dinner and got everyone involved.

WordPress.com is our global partner for web publishing. Earlier this year, we launched the Own Your Content campaign, which was adopted and loved by both communities.

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At camp, we created a nine-foot-tall analog blog post with a daily prompt for our organizers to help set an intention for the day. We “archived” the former blog posts around the camp for organizers to re-read and reflect on their intentions.

Our presenting partners, Harvest and Dropbox, supported us in creating experiences that were paramount for the camp experience.

Harvest provided all-day-and-night snacks for organizers. The days were jam-packed with events, and waiting for the next meal was out of the question. Snack cart for the win!

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And what is summer camp without a bit of friendly competition? Dropbox’s Lakeside Legends Showdown was — as you can clearly see in the pictures below — a mini obstacle course that evoked the daring and competitive spirit in some of our organizers.

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Naturally, there was an audience, screaming and supporting from the sidelines.

B&H was our photo partner for the Summit. Liz and her team were fully hands-on, taking hundreds of photos of the community and participating in the activities!

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Upon checking in, organizers had an Instax taken of them (or their team). Once they were settled into their bunks, they were invited to participate in a scavenger hunt with a Fuji Instax camera and a shot list. The goal was to get as many points as possible before happy hour.

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KERTIS is a creative agency based in Louisville, Kentucky. For the past two years, they’ve been collaborating with the CreativeMornings/Louisville chapter, shooting their monthly talks for free!

As our official video partner, Amber Garvey, VP of KERTIS, and her team filmed every day and are helping us create videos that highlight the community. Amber also gave a presentation about why she and her team choose to do pro-bono work with the local chapter, how it has helped the agency, and why more work like this is possible in cities around the world.

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Red Bull kept us energized and refreshed all week long, and provided a delicious bespoke cocktail for our final dinner.

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Grizzly is an independent creative agency in San Diego where one of the partners, Nate Spees, is the host of CreativeMornings/SanDiego. Simply put, they’re amazing, and they contributed financially to the Summit to help us cover costs.

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Supported by kindness

Our camp partners generously donated their products and services to ensure that we were hydrated, caffeinated, and bringing home tons of useful goodies. To reduce waste, rather than stuffing the tote bags, we created an a-la-carte flow where you took what you needed and left the rest.

If you’re in need of t-shirts, mugs, custom stickers, notebooks, etc., please look into these generous companies — the people are lovely to collaborate with and they believe in the power of community.

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The heart of this community

At CreativeMornings HQ, we often have to remind ourselves to zoom out and look at the big picture of what’s happening around the world — the generosity, emotional labor, and commitment to create a space for the local creative community to belong, to turn neighbors into friends, and to compel inspiration into action.

Summit Camp was a reminder of the impact that community has on the world, not just in the context of CreativeMornings, but humans helping humans. It’s some of the most important work today and there could never be enough of it.

Lives change because of community — because of people seeing one another, respecting one another, and supporting one another. Loneliness in an age of connection is simply fear winning over the power of love, and it shows that there’s more work to be done.

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For 10 years this engine of generosity has kept trucking along. Tens of thousands of events. Thousands of speakers showing up and telling their stories, inspiring their neighbors to revel in what can be. And all of this is possible because of the spirit of generosity that our organizers and volunteers have inside of them. It’s quite easy to be skeptical about why our events remain free, but as soon you step into an event and meet the community that shows up month after month, the fear fizzles and hearts crack open.

A full-body thank you to our organizers and the 1500+ volunteers around the world who selflessly show up every month, caring so deeply about building community. The commitment and work you put into the events are changing people’s lives.

We need to remind ourselves of this every so often — a splash of fuel for the flames — so that we keep believing in giving a damn, even when life sometimes tries to make us believe otherwise.


A big thank you to our volunteers who made this space possible for our organizers: Liz Ryan, Rachelle Vagy, Doris Füllgrabe, Fredrick Weiss, Susan Nichols, Madalyn Davidson, Robert Shuessler, Josh Orr, Christine Sirois, John Becker, Sue Fan, Bobby Jeffries, and Dave O'Brien. Thank you to Hayden Davis for sign painting everything that was paintable. Thank you Jennifer Ward for your all of the beautiful Summit flair and designing this space to make everyone feel closer. Thank you Annica Lyndenberg for the beautiful type illustrations. And thank you to our wonderful event photographer, Tory Williams. These amazing humans are for hire and wonderful to collaborate with!

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