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What I Will Miss, and What You Won't

by John Abrams

Thursday, January 28, 2016

NESEA Night Awards

For the first time in more than 30 years, I will not attend BuildingEnergy Boston in March.  Important family commitments need my attention.   

This will be hard for me.

Mostly, I will miss seeing a collection of people who are near and dear to me – bear hugs, catch-ups, re-connections, new connections, chance encounters, big laughs, and stimulating conversations.  That’s enough right there, isn’t it?

But there’s more.

I’ll miss discovering the gestalt of this years’ conference.  Each year it’s different.  Something stands out and becomes emblematic.  Surprising talks and workshops set off a buzz.  Invariably I find myself in a room being startled by something entirely unexpected.  Someone appears who obviously understands what Charlie Parker once said, “First, master your instrument.  Then, forget all that shit and play!”

I’ll miss that.

I’ll miss the learning. 

After all these years, what’s left to learn?  Everything.  That’s the funny thing about learning – the more we learn the more there is to learn.

It may seem that there’s a lot of road behind us, but far more lies ahead.

I’ll miss that.

I’ll miss gathering at the Closing Forum where, at various times during the last three decades, magic moments have happened, moments which left us, as we departed, with a strong sense of the tribal feeling that NESEA can foster.   It’s a special experience.

I’ll miss that too.

And now, some advice for you. 

Don’t laugh so hard with Terry Brennan that you choke.  Don’t let Marc Rosenbaum get away with anything (check his numbers).  Don’t let Rob Meyers and Ben Southworth ply you with so many spectacular cocktails that you regret it in the morning.  Don’t let Jamie Wolf and Paul Eldrenkamp make you feel bad because they do so so much, and you think you don’t (I have succumbed to that feeling from time to time).  Don’t let Jennifer Marrapese rope you into more than you bargained for (no, I take that back, do let her do that; you won’t regret it). 

But most of all, whatever you do, don’t do what I’m doing.  Don’t miss it.  Be there.  Discover.  Absorb.  Savor.  Engage.  Enjoy.

See you next year.  Can’t wait.

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NESEA advances sustainability practices in the built environment by cultivating a cross-disciplinary community where practitioners are encouraged to share, collaborate and learn.

JOHN ABRAMS is founder and CEO of South Mountain Company (SMC), a 41-year-old integrated architecture, engineering, building, and renewable energy company committed to triple bottom line business practices. Located on Martha’s Vineyard, South Mountain has been a worker cooperative for 28 years and was among the first B-Corps in Massachusetts ( John’s book COMPANIES WE KEEP: Employee Ownership and the Business of Community and Place, was published in 2008. He blogs at http...

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