Wherever you grew up, wherever you call home, there must be some sense of community, isn’t there? Not that everyone thinks or looks alike. Hopefully, your life has been richer because of diversity. Yet, there are some things everyone in your community may have in common.
Social media can create a similar sense of virtual community because of shared interests, vocations and approaches to life. That’s the opportunity that the first ever ShiftCon eco-wellness conference tapped into by bringing hundreds of leading bloggers, businesses and nonprofits together, in the flesh, in Los Angeles.
Many ShiftCon attendees feel so passionately about various causes that they’d previously marched on Washington together, written extensively about topics covered at the event or volunteered with nonprofit groups. Several nonprofits that work together in the popular Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition were available at ShiftCon to further educate on everything from safe cosmetics to toxic chemicals in our homes to pesticide use on our food supply. Thanks to SCHF for making my trip possible.
Most notably representing the growing $35 billion organic food industry and the movement to label genetically modified organisms were several top names from the business and blogging world. Stonyfield Organic founder and Just Label It chairman Gary Hirshberg delivered the welcoming address and took time for individual meet and greets with photos with everyone in attendance.
Vani Hari shared her story of becoming the woman known online as the Food Babe who keeps big food companies on their toes. Then she tried to include dozens of bloggers behind her in a fun selfie that was later posted via her social media.
Business analyst-turned-mom and now GMO labeling spokeswoman Robyn O’Brien delivered perhaps the most moving talk to an attentive breakfast crowd. She related the common struggles of families today shopping for groceries for kids with autism or food allergies and seeking as much information as possible. Speaking at ShiftCon seemed to be a pause in the otherwise non-stop schedule for O’Brien as she speaks frequently to various media about Colorado’s GMO labeling vote.
When it comes to media, ShiftCon was certainly diverse in that respect. Attendees included several book authors, long-time journalists, radio hosts, documentary filmmakers, public speakers and social media personalities. I was honored to be asked by Choose Wiser’s Kristi Marsh to sit town for an online interview. I’ll let you know when it airs.
A shared challenge is that many of us blogging somewhere on the green spectrum say “no thank you” to more sponsors than we accept because many brands aren’t a fit for the values we promote. ShiftCon founder Leah Segedie of Mamavation was savvy enough to bring together bloggers and brands that already speak the same language.
When the team at Traditional Medicinals didn’t just try to promote how great their tea tastes (although it is tasty) but they brought ingredient samples and discussed sourcing, they connected with bloggers who cared about these details. When the witty moms from Earth Mama Angel Baby lured everyone in with silly cupcakes, they were also prepared to answer any and all questions about what goes into their carefully crafted skin care products. There were dozens more examples, from mattress makers using organic cotton to a medical doctor creating a wholesome organic shake his kids will drink, and more.
As with any community, ShiftCon included a range of identities, personalities and approaches to life. Yet, the central theme of shifting from the status quo to one that values people and a healthy planet to live on was one that seemed to resonate throughout the conference and beyond.
Will we see you next year at ShiftCon? Why or why not?
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