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2018 NESEA Night Reflection

by Jamie Wolf

04/03/2018 - 21:38

NESEA 2003 Sun PosterMagic happened this year at NESEA Night. I’m eager to tell you about it, but before we get there, let’s back up.

NESEA was born of necessity. An energy awakening in the 1970’s invited a nascent community of architects, engineers, and builders in the Northeast to imagine a built environment reoriented to the solar resource. With few coherent models to follow, they banded together to imagine and construct their own. They found each other and made a commitment to gather and share what they were learning, then scrutinize and improve upon what they observed. An ethic was founded and bonds were formed. Inquiry, scrutiny, and mastery were the guiding ethics; they still are. The process was repeated over and over, year upon year, and - eventually and inevitably - decade upon decade. Thus NESEA. Thus this enduring community and its roots. Here we are.

Communities that endure practice rituals that honor the ethics that ground them. These practices emerge and take form as the community itself matures and develops. As night falls, the tribe gathers to celebrate itself. A generation ago NESEA members reveled in the tradition of the “My Favorite Tool Contest,” a jovial celebration of our chosen methods hosted by Terry Brennan. In 2003 we conjured a ritual to celebrate. As Amelia Amon’s poster of a glowing sun invited, “This is our campfire and these are our tales.”

Over the past fifteen years, we have endeavored to discover the right way to hold that celebration. There have been bands, dancing on boats, and auctions of everything from whiskey and maple syrup to Livingston Taylor’s guitar. There was Green Elvis (don’t ask), Pecha-Kucha, and even an activity involving Play-Doh! Over time, we defaulted to yet another reception with expensive drinks and the mingling we never tire of.

But this year something shifted. Thanks to our imaginative staff we were in a new venue. There was an intimacy in the setting that was missing in the expanse of the Seaport. We could feel each other and that felt good. By the time we got to NESEA Night and Kurt Teichert, our inimitable host, invited everyone to gather for the presentation of the Distinguished Service and Professional Leadership Awards, folks had eaten and drank enough to be ready to sit and listen. And that is exactly what they did.

Imagine being in that room as it suddenly became quiet, and as we all listened together, become quieter still until the silence itself amplified the reverence for what was being shared. It began with me presenting the Distinguished Service Award to David Foley, followed by Marc Rosenbaum presenting the Professional Leadership award to Vivian Loftness.

Click here for my presentation of the Distinguished Service Award to David Foley.

Click here for David Foley's acceptance speech for the Distinguished Service Award.

Click here for Vivian Loftness's acceptance speech for the Professional Leadership Award.

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I was good with blocks as a kid and still think building things is fun and keep trying to get better at it. That's why I'm here. NESEA is the heart of my professional community and keeps me engaged, informed, and connected. Our company Wolfworks designs and builds home for folks to thrive in and around Avon, CT.

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