PopTech Blog

The Bush Foundation Scholars: investing in great ideas and people

Standing under a bright yellow leaf canopy in Camden’s Village Green, Awo Ahmed, a social innovator from Minnesota, told us what had impacted her most at this year’s PopTech conference. It was hearing speakers Roelf Meyer and Ebrahim Rasool, once bitter enemies, talk about their experiences in reshaping South Africa after the fall of Apartheid. “What I was feeling inside was exactly what they were talking about… Sometimes when you’re a Muslim and a minority you feel alone.” She paused, took a breath. “It made me cry… And it made me feel less alone.”

Awo is part of the Bush Foundation’s new Event Scholarship program, which is making it possible for change-makers from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and 23 Native nations to attend high-profile national events, including PopTech. Megan Forgrave, the Foundation’s Communications Program Manager was looking forward to the grantees’ time at PopTech. “Our goal is to inspire and connect people to think differently about creative problem-solving… We think that at PopTech, our grantees will hear from and build networks with a wide variety of people who are stepping outside routine ways of making change.”

Honey Burg, a social innovator from Minnesota, told us about her struggles with community development. “Over and over in rural Minnesota ...I kept hearing, ‘If you help people, it’s going to do more harm than good’ and ‘It’s not the right time.’ I was so moved yesterday when the first speaker (Eric Liu, founder of Citizen University) brought up those points.”

“Tells” as Eric had called them, are “little pieces of rhetoric…used by incumbent holders of power…to put us to sleep, so that we won’t protest or resist the unequal balance of power in this country.” By debunking them as “pseudoscientific theory” or “fairy tale” or both, he’d spoken directly to Honey. “It was so validating to hear that I was on the right path. I’m going back with an even bigger push.”

Roxanne Kibben from the Twin Cities is an addiction specialist working to bring technology to addiction recovery. “When I look back at the last three days, I think that my mind was stimulated on the first day, my heart got really invested in the second day, and this morning I can feel my soul… I’m left with a lot more questions than answers, which is good.”

In addition to the inspiration they’d received from the stage, several Bush Foundation grantees told us about connecting with people and ideas through the randomized lunch program and at other off-stage events. As grantee Dan Thiede, who works in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs in Minnesota put it, “[There] couldn’t be a more important time to come together with other instigators!”

It's a wrap!

It’s a Wrap!

The last boxes are back in storage and the lights are out at the Opera House. It’s always bittersweet to see another PopTech come and go. While it is pretty quiet around here, we are energized by last week – from the opening moments of the Instigate video created by our colleagues at Collins to Jill Sobule’s closing song – our journey was filled with insightful, diverse and provocative commentary that captured where we are today, and where we might aspire to be in the future. Thank you for being part of our community – our family. We love sharing, experiencing and exploring with you.

Stay Tuned – Talks Live Soon

In a few weeks we will be releasing all of the talks and performances you enjoyed at PopTech 2017: Instigate. Thank you for sharing PopTech’s magic moments with friends, colleagues and your broader networks via social media.

PopTech 2018 – An Intimate, Immersive Experience

In the coming year we are designing a new approach to gathering our community. Taking a break from our usual conference format, we are creating a more intimate gathering that captures the ‘can do’ spirit of our community, as well as our instinct to go deep on the topics of the day. We are planning a truly immersive experience that moves from listening to doing.

What’s in store? Cutting edge presentations you have come to expect, interactive sessions, hikes, conversation-filled family dinners, fireside chats in front of real fireplaces, late night debates, movies, music-making and bowling (yep-bowling!) – all in a natural setting that includes sleeping in beautiful log cabins. We will be convening at the spectacular Point Lookout, just north of Camden, October 31 - Nov 3. Take advantage of our special Early Bird discount rate of $1600. This offer ends on November 3, when the registration rate increases to $2000. Register today!

What we’re reading at PopTech 2017

What will the future look like?
What is the root of motivation, and how can we use it to approach important choices in our lives?
How can you make your life one big adventure without winding up in the emergency room or in jail?
Could our money be making us happier? What about our relationships?

PopTech speakers explore these and many other provocative questions both on stage… and in these brand-new books, one for each of the next eleven months:

  1. Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending, by Michael Norton
  2. Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations, by Dan Ariely
  3. Powerplay: How Videogames Can Save the World, by Asi Burak
  4. The 2 AM Principle: Discover the Science of Adventure, by Jon Levy
  5. The All or Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work, by Eli Finkel
  6. The Golden Passport: Harvard Business School, The Limits of Capitalism, and the Moral Failure of the MBA Elite, by Duff McDonald
  7. The State of Affairs, by Esther Perel
  8. The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return, by Mihir Desai
  9. WTF: What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us, by Tim O’Reilly
  10. You're More Powerful Than You Think, by Eric Liu
  11. Whose Global Village?: Rethinking How Technology Shapes Our World, by Ramesh Srinivasan

This year, we’re partnering with independent bookshop, the Owl & Turtle Bookshop Café, to offer a pop-up bookstore right in the Opera House, so you’ll never have to go far to find one of these compelling books. Stop by to browse and to chat with the authors after they’ve spoken on stage. Buy a book or two and have them signed. As always, PopTech speakers have given us a lot to think about and enjoy this year.

Cool stuff happens when worlds collide

Cool stuff happens when worlds collide

PopTech 2017: Instigate is near sell-out. Register today! We’re down to a handful of tickets. Great lodging is still available. Fall foliage will be at its peak!

PopTech has a knack for mixing it up! We don’t like to keep things orderly or predictable. We don’t think operating in silos is the best way to get things done. We like peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwiches (yep, just like Elvis!). And we see endless potential when traditional boundaries are broken. Come play and explore with us!

Here is a sneak-peek – Beware – FOMO will set in!

Musical expression is a big part of our program. PopTech 2017 is honored to showcase the work of Rahzel and Martha Mooke who make a habit of breaking down walls, as evidenced by their recent collaboration Beats Per Revolution. We are also excited to welcome our colleagues at Moogfest who will present a multimedia session that predicts the future of musical expression and social revolutions. And we are delighted by the return of our beloved friend, singer, songwriter and activist, Jill Sobule who will share new work with us!

Breaking down barriers to exploration is empowering a whole new generation of explorers–of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and interests–to make discoveries and breakthroughs that could change the world. Our colleagues at the National Geographic Society will join us for a fascinating discussion about how crowdsourcing is democratizing science, featuring National Geographic Chief Scientist, Jonathan Baillie, Space Archaeologist Sarah Parcak, and Maker and Writer David Lang. PopTech Science Fellow Ben Dubin-Thaler and the BioBus will provide hands-on science activities, thanks to the generous support of our partners at Toyota.

Scientific exploration and cultural immersion enhance civic engagement. Friends like Eric Liu, Mia Birdsong and Esther Perel will help us see the sometimes invisible ties that bind us.

We look forward to welcoming you to our home in Camden, Maine to imagine what the world can be.

Photo credit: Patrick Meyer

BioBus makes PopTech first stop on cross-country tour

This post was authored by 2010 PopTech Science Fellow Ben Dubin-Thaler together with co-worker Li Murphy. Ben is the Founder and Executive Director of BioBus, Inc., which envisions a world where all people have the opportunity to reach their full scientific potential. Through the generous support of Toyota, the biobus will be paying a visit to PopTech 2017: Instigate.

NEW YORK CITY - The diameter of each of the six tires on our flagship mobile science research lab, BioBus I, is 42.4 inches. How many revolutions have these tires made traveling the 100,000 miles since I first got behind the wheel in August 2008? The literal answer requires geometry and unit conversions. The figurative answer is that BioBus’s tires spin every school day with one revolution in mind: that every student who comes aboard will broaden their definition of who can do science and how science is done.

Since we started, 200,000 kids have boarded the bus and discovered the excitement of research science. Thousands of these students have joined BioBus scientists for in-depth programs at our community programs in Harlem and the Lower East Side of New York City. We focus our work in communities that are unjustly starved of opportunities to do science.

I joined the PopTech community in 2010 in the first class of Science Fellows, soon after finishing my biophysics Ph.D. at Columbia. The training and support I continue to receive from PopTech helps drive me to be revolutionary in my thinking. PopTech helped pave the runway to launch BioBus I, and I am thrilled to share big news from the road... BioBus II is now on the streets of New York!

BioBus II was fabricated in Ohio, customized in Oregon and driven by the team back to Harlem. Our conversations along the way revealed that the hunger to engage with science is almost universal across the country, red and blue states alike.

This October it’s your turn. I am proud to announce BioBus II and the BioBus team will travel to Maine for PopTech 2017: Instigate. I encourage you to approach us the way our students do, with curiosity and ideas about directions you would take science. Even with 50 million tire revolutions since we first hit the road, it is the participation of our students and communities like PopTech – not engine horsepower – that achieves our mission. We can’t wait to get you aboard and on the road with us as we spread excitement about science across the country.

The Vehicle of Change series showcases the innovative work of the vast PopTech Fellow alumni network. It is made possible by the generous support of our long-time partner, Toyota. The Toyota Mirai exemplifies their deep commitment to environmental protection and building a sustainable future.

A Forum for Instigators – PopTech 2017 Line-Up Expanded

PopTech 2017:Instigate continues to push boundaries with a provocative program that reflects the cultural, social and political winds blowing across America and around the world. This is a not-to-miss forum that promises to inspire, motivate and challenge how we, as individuals and global citizens, navigate our shared future.

PopTech 2017 is approaching sell-out. Register today! We are down to the last 100 tickets.

Below is a small sampling of the catalytic voices that will be joining an already amazing group of speakers next month in Camden, Maine.

  • Cindy Chupack, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning TV writer and producer whose credits include “Divorce,” “Better Things,” “Modern Family,” “Sex and the City,” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
  • Billy Gould, founding member, bassist and producer for rock group Faith No More, the founder and CEO of Koolarrow Records and the executive producer of RocKabul, an upcoming documentary film that examines the counter insurgency/culture campaign in Afghanistan.
  • Travis Beard, founder of Sound Central Festival - the first contemporary music and arts festival in Kabul, Afghanistan. Over 10 diplomatic missions have funded his vast portfolio of cultural work in conflict-ridden countries. He is currently completing work on the documentary, RocKabul.
  • Ebrahim Rasool, former South African Ambassador to the United States and the founder of World for All Foundations. He has a long history of involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle, including leadership in the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the African National Congress (ANC).
  • Roelf Meyer, served as the Minister of Constitutional Development and Provincial Affairs for Nelson Mandela from 1994 to 1996 and as the Chief Negotiator for F.W. De Klerk in negotiations to end Apartheid from 1992 to 1994. He is the co-founder of the United Democratic Movement.
  • Tim Phillips, a pioneer in the field of conflict resolution and reconciliation, and co-founder of Beyond Conflict, a global initiative that is internationally recognized for contributions to the field of transitional justice.

Learning from the future

For twenty-one years PopTech has made a commitment to seeing the future through the lens of possibility – celebrating the present while simultaneously rejoicing in what’s just around the corner, or hiding in plain sight right before us. Some of the most unhinged ideas, science fiction scenarios and that’s not possible projects shared on our stage represent cutting edge solutions we now take for granted – in science, healthcare, technology, humanitarian assistance and enterprise.

We are pleased to welcome:

  • Tim O’Reilly, a self-proclaimed mapmaker to the future, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media and author of the upcoming book, WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us
  • Esther Perel, iconic couples therapist and one of the most insightful voices on the complex science behind human interaction, whose new book, State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity, will be published in October
  • Clifford Johnson, a physicist whose scientific endeavors range from teaching and research to his quest to put science back into the general culture by advising TV shows and movies, including National Geographic’s Genius (featuring Einstein) and Marvel's Agent Carter and Star Trek, and through the creation of a graphic novel called The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe, due out this fall
  • Eli Finkel, director of Northwestern University’s Relationships and Motivation Lab, and author of The All-Or-Nothing Marriage
  • Michael Norton, whose research on money and happiness is captured in Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending

Above are just a few of the speakers who will grace our stage this October in Camden, Maine. More than a conference, PopTech is a dynamic community committed to authentic human connection and civic engagement, a promise we have consistently delivered on for over two decades.

PopTech 2017 is 75% sold out. Don’t delay! Register today.

Complacency Elixir - Amazing Instigators Join PopTech 2017 Line-Up

PopTech 2017: Instigate is honored to introduce an extraordinary group of speakers who make a habit of challenging the status quo.

Please welcome Eric Liu, founder of Citizen University and author of You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen; Sarah Lacy, founder and CEO of Pando, an investigative journalism outlet, and Chairman Mom, a mommy-war-free community for professional moms; Dan Ariely, professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke and founder of the Center for Advanced Hindsight; Marika Anthony-Shaw, former violinist/violist of Grammy-winning Arcade Fire and founder of Plus 1; Duff McDonald, financial journalist and author of The Firm and The Golden Passport; Stephanie Coontz, Director of Research and Public Education at the Council on Contemporary Families; Kevin Poulsen, award-winning journalist, one-time hacker and author of Kingpin — How One Hacker Took Over the Billion Dollar Cyber Crime Underground; and Amar Bakshi, founder and creative director of Shared Studios, an art, technology and design collective that enables members of diverse communities to interact across great distances.

Grab your ticket. Sharpen your debate skills. Defy complacency. It’s time to explore what’s possible!

What are you waiting for?!

Two weeks ago we revealed PopTech 2017: Instigate as well as a few of the many speakers who will be joining us in Camden this October. Stay tuned for our next speaker announcement in mid-May!
Planning to join us? We’re now over 60% sold out and tickets will increase from $1,750 to $2,000 starting this Monday, May 1. Grab yours before it’s too late! 

PopTech 2017 is over 50% sold out!

Last week we unveiled PopTech 2017: Instigate, where we will explore the actions, responses and movements shaping our future. We are honored and delighted to have Moran Cerf return as our esteemed host. A few of the many speakers who will be joining him on stage include Rukmini Callimachi, NYT correspondent covering Al Qaeda and the Islamic State; actor and director Mark Duplass; Natalia Oberti Noguera, CEO and Founder of Pipeline Angels; and Abdul El-Sayed, candidate for Michigan governor. The instincts of our curatorial team are setting the tone for what promises to be the most provocative PopTech in our history. More speakers to be announced in the coming weeks – stay tuned!

We’re thrilled to announce that we’re over 50% sold out. Tickets are $1750 through April 30. Beginning May 1, tickets will be available at $2000.

Did you know we offer group packages? Over the last few years, this has been a wildly popular offering that has contributed significantly to PopTech’s unique sense of community. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us. (FYI - These packages can represent an average savings of $500 per ticket. They also give you an excuse to book an amazing house rental.)

Don’t miss out! There’s no longer room for complacency, only possibilities. Come join us and be part of the solution.

Photo: Roman Boed, Creative Commons License