By: Emma Sue Sims
Innovate Live, a festive convergence of local innovators, took place April 24-26, 2015, in Downtown Staunton. The three day event was a collaborative effort launched by the City of Staunton with the help of partners (including SCCF!), organizer Meghan Williamson, and an energetic team of interns from Mary Baldwin College. The schedule included workshops, presentations, farm tours, and community conversations, bringing successful and upcoming business owners and innovators together to figure out the “algorithm” of what makes a business successful.
Day one began with a pre-innovate presentation. The journalists, social media geeks, and any who wanted to get an early start on the weekend attended the Storytellers workshop. The workshop sparked action for live tweeting and initiated the #InnovateLIVE trend. Also at the workshop, event organizer Megan Williamson and news writer for the Staunton News Leader, Laura Peters, told us more about what makes a story beautiful. Attendees were welcomed to join the conversations bringing the workshops to life with experienced advice from everyone in the room.
After a lunch break, all were invited to tour the Project Grows farm. Ryan Blosser of Project Grows gave the group an introduction to the farm and its involvement in the community. Innovation doesn’t happen by listening and talking, it takes a little bit of doing. To show that belief, the group got their hands in the dirt and helped around the farm. After a sunny start to the weekend, day one came to a close as everyone met up for the evening at Innovate Live sponsor Queen City Brewing for entertainment by the Sally Rose Band and tasty microbrews.
This year was the first year for Innovate Live. With day one a success, the rest of the weekend was a long breath of relief for those involved in the planning and preparation. Day two brought April showers. Not only the second day of Innovate Live, Saturday was also Bridge Day, the celebration of community efforts that occurred three years ago to save and rebuild Sears Hill Bridge. While Innovators were on break they were able to eat, shop, and enjoy more live bands and artists at the Bridge Day celebration. Saturday evening brought Pitch Night: aspiring entrepreneurs brought their big ideas and presented them to the group and after the presentations everyone voted on their favorite business or idea. Traipse– a digital tour of Staunton mixed with puzzles and prizes- came out on top. Soon enough the day came to an end sending innovators home to get rest before day three.
No one person had the same experience at Innovate Live 2015. Some were there to make connections and others to pitch their ideas. Some were there to live report happenings and others to teach and invest in the community. However, no matter why they were there, everyone accomplished something. The final day of Innovate Live came with a farm tour of Polyface Farms, one last workshop, and a film showing with the Hypnagogia Film Collective.
This year, Innovate Live was a success. #InnovateLIVE stickers still remain stuck to windows and railings downtown and the twitter remains to have over one hundred followers. Whether or not you attended the event, Innovation does not begin or stop anywhere. Innovation, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the introduction of something new let it be idea, device, or method. This festive convergence created a space for people to meet and plan. If you missed out on Innovate Live this year take a step out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to a business owner in your area. Innovation starts with an idea and then a voice.