Last Saturday, I attended BarCamp Charlotte 6 (@barcampclt). This "unconference" was in its sixth iteration, and I finally got over there. I wasn’t really sure of what to expect, but came away with a shirt pocket full of business cards, several side pockets of inspiration, and a few sketches that colored my impressions.

The day started off by me realizing that it would probably *not* be a good idea to bike to BarCamp. It was the low 40s (F) and I was in no shape going to be able to bike there with it that cool. Sure, it was going to warm up later, but even in driving there, most of us who weren’t already with a cup of coffee in the hand were looking for that warm-cup delievery.

Everyone got settled in as Adam (CPCC) gave us all a headsup for the day’s activities. First, there would be 30 second pitches by anyone who was able to give one for a discussion topic. The topic would get posted on a large wall and then we’d have a few minutes to mark our vote on the topic by marker or crayon. After the voting was over, the eight (8) highest voted pitches would be placed into one of two sessions (four sessions went on at a time).

The first session that I attended was about how to build a 3D printer by Hackerspace Charlotte (@hackerspaceclt). This was just one of those *too intriguing to miss* presenations. The presentation also included a piece in its second half called "why things explode," which I have to admit being one of those rare times where I kept hearing someone spout off things I didn’t know and was amazed at. Oh, the 3D printer, it apparently costs $350 for the total amount of materials and Hackerspace Charlotte has sessions on Wednesdays where they show you how to make one. Make your own screws, tools, stands, etc., for $350 and the cost of the plastic? Nice.

After that was one of the more energetic presenters that I’d seen during the day. Raquel Valez (@rockbot) giving a talk on her top 10 networking tips. From someone who’s merely known her from just following her Twitter timeline, it was impressive that she both did the talk off the cuff but also had 10 solid and very valid tips. IMO, she’s a networking beast and could teach more than networking if she had more time. Was a great talk, and was quite hard to keep with the discussion when others started chiming in (hence the drops of water around the ladder on the sketchnote).

Ah, the sketchnote. See, I had to go that route. There would have been normal notes, but so many people were doing that with iPads. Had to go with my brand ya know. And it goes some decent attention as well. Maybe I should…

We broke for lunch (I got a BarCamp 6 t-shirt) and then did the pitches and voting again. In this section, I stretched my networking legs a bit and got to talk with several folks who are doing some neat things in and around Charlotte. There’s a lot of energy to just see the entire city do well.

The first talk I attended in the second session was how to give an Ignite Charlotte talk by Bridget Sullivan (@sullybridgetb). Lots of tips there that were applicable for more than just Ignite formatted talks. Now, I do have to admit that I pushed a bit with a question that I had about an interactive talk. And I’ve got ideas on how one could work. But, after getting shot back a bit, I let the sketchnote for that session talk, and I think its something that could come back when its time to submit for topics.

The second and final talk of the day that I attended was about reshaping and refining education given the lack of preparation that people have in coming out of college and those who are in professions but being called to reset themselves in light of jobs and the economy. This talk was led by Bermon Painter (@bermonpainter) and was a nice cap on the emotional and action steps that an event like BarCamp instigates. I think that I was finally comfortable with the crowd because I talked a lot here. But, that’s my heart. Got to change the educational foundations if we are going to do the longest and most sustainable changes to the culture. If there’s a bigger focus on mentoring/discipleship, and then the curriculims focus not on rote subjects but the applicable methods in industries beyond and knitting of those subjects, we can see the changes we desire.

After a few more chats, that was it. The day was long, the weather warmed up, and it was just a bit of a fire ignited in me to continue connecting with several groups and people in the area. I’m looking forward to seeing some of those who attended BarCamp at other engagements in the coming months. And maybe I’ll even get around to fuller conversations with these persons and the initiatives they represent/forward.

One of the attendees of BarCamp and I took some exxtra conversations at Amelie’s Bakery afterwards. I’m really liking that spot as a place to just settle into rest and refreshing. The conversation, much like the connections at BarCamp, were good towards upping the bar towards how I see and connect with life in this second stanza in Charlotte. BarCamp 7 might see a different me given all of that.

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