Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
The grueling day and afternoon presentations evaporated under the seasoned martini pouring of Skip and the retro-psychedelic ambience of the Domtar's Share the Vision party at the Hotel Jerome. Gary Burden was signing copies of his album cover book, and people were doing their best to enjoy Aspen without talking Design or Summit. A few pitchers of margaritas later (it actually took quite a bit of Aspen to break from the design and summit parts), a handful of us reconvened at the conference bar before saying goodnight. (Ok, it wasn't all as wild as we're making it sound, but this was final night; we write history the way we want to remember it.)
In the morning, there was one more session: Attendees were given wireless voting remotes and asked to variously rank the various project pitches presented yesterday. This was fun, and if you went by the math there were indeed a few winners, but the sample was a bit small (several people had already taken off), the game went a bit long (as most games do), and there was no time left to really tease out the findings. A bull session might have proved more profitable, but then you run the risk of pontificateurs running a-mic. (And we all know how ugly that can be.)
So where are we now? Well, there were 2 or 3 threads that wove themselves through many of the presentations: The metaphor of the "tool kit" came up several times (our group's was called "DesignLunchbox: Connecting Teachers with Design Thinking"...you get the idea); even more groups pitched building social-networking sites aimed at joining design professionals with people who need them, or vetting NGOs to separate the wheat from the chaff, or enabling knowledge-sharing amongst various grass-roots organizations. Other "winners" focused on specific, localized issues (the threat of a prison build in the South Bronx; meaningful reconstruction in "You Orleans"), and hopefully we'll be able to read clear descriptions of all of the pitches on AIGA's website somewhere in the near future. But leveraging the organization and local chapters of the AIGA and using the net to effect change seem pretty good to me, and represent a mandate perhaps within appropriate and feasible scope of the organization. The next steps are to ratify the Aspen Challenge (design challenges offered to colleges and universities), and to come up with the name of the game for 2007 (the Aspen Action).
So instead of signing off with "see you next year!"...for this conference it might be more appropriate to say "check for frequent status reports throughout the coming year, stay in touch with all the interesting people you met, take action by committing your time, and reach out locally to those in need around you." They changed the name from Conference to Summit, of course, but we all know that it's the footsoldiers who ultimately take that in the end.