2019 Emerging Creatives Student Summit
The 2019 Emerging Creatives theme was Food and Place. Food is the common language of life. Across the world, people use it to establish and maintain relationships and to celebrate important events. Food also frequently takes on a symbolic dimension in culture, representing everything from love to social status. Differing approaches to its production and consumption profoundly affect our economic systems, public health, and climate. Our connection to food is multifaceted, inspiring a wide range of creative works.
Ian Cheney is a documentary filmmaker, cinematographer, and producer. His first feature-length film, King Corn, which he co-produced and starred in with Curt Ellis, won the 2008 Peabody Award. His film The City Dark garnered a 2013 Emmy nomination and aired on PBS’s P.O.V. series. Cheney’s other films include The Greening of Southie, The Search for General Tso, and most recently, The Most Unknown, to name a few. He runs the documentary film production company Wicked Delicate Films and is a co-founder of the nonprofit organization FoodCorps.
Kate Daughdrill is an artist, urban farmer, writer, and speaker who lives and works on Burnside Farm in Detroit, MI. Recent projects include Detroit SOUP, a monthly dinner that funds micro-grants for creative projects in Detroit, and the Edible Hut, a community space with a living, edible roof in a public park in Detroit. Her work was been shared broadly in publications such as the New York Times, Dwell, and Cosmopolitan and has been exhibited at museums and other institutions throughout the world that value the intersection of art, food, soulful growth, and sustainable living.
Ross Gay is the author of three poetry collections: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His first essay collection, The Book of Delights, is forthcoming this February. Gay is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. He has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He teaches at Indiana University.
Michelle Hesse, PhD, RD is the Director of Agency Relations at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Prior to joining the Food Bank last spring, she was a dietetics professor at James Madison University. Her research at JMU focused on evaluating the nutritional quality of foods in food banking systems. While working on her PhD at The Ohio State University, Hesse managed several community-based projects that focused on nutrition education for pregnant women, young families, and children under the age of 5.
Michael Snell-Feikema has a Master’s in History with a research focus on the history of Latin American Liberation Theology. He has worked in Mexico, Central America, and the US as a Peace and Solidarity activist since the early 1980s. Since the fall of 2015, he has mobilized and coordinated community support for the unionization campaign of area poultry workers and Local 400 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union through Community Solidarity with the Poultry Workers (CSPW). CSPW has concentrated on raising public awareness of the terrible working conditions and systematic exploitation of vulnerable immigrant and refugee workers by the area poultry industry.
Stephanie Williams is a Washington, DC based tinkerer and doodler whose work navigates hierarchies of taste. She received her MFA in Sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design, a Sheridan Teaching Certificate from Brown University, and a BFA from James Madison University (2003). In 2017, she was in Fictions, part of the Studio Museum of Harlem’s F-show exhibitions. Additional exhibition venues include |’sindikit |, Washington Project for the Arts, The Delaware Contemporary, Grizzly Grizzly, the Everhart Museum, and Laurence University with reviews in the New York Times, Village Voice, Huffington Post, and Washington Post. She was a recipient of a DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities Fellowship (2019), a resident fellow at the Corporation of Yaddo (2018), Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (2016), ACRE Projects (2015), The Wassaic Project (2014), Elsewhere Collaborative (2014) and the Vermont Studio Center (2006). She currently teaches stop motion for the Animation Department at Maryland Institute College of Art.
This summit was hosted by James Madison University, which is located at the center of the Shenandoah Valley, a diverse community long-defined by food production, from family-run farms to large-scale commercial agriculture. This event brought together students from a variety of disciplines to work on projects that consider the relationship between food and place. The summit featured panels and working group leadership from distinguished professors at James Madison University, as well as leading artists and scholars from around the country.
Elizabeth Alspach, University of Arkansas:
As an artist and primarily an object maker, I come from a field that has historically struggled to make itself viable in the larger context of scientific research and other lines of academic inquiry across the humanities. Art is often seen as a fun career or merely a hobby that is pursued out of interest and knack as opposed to professional drive or its capacity to contribute to solving global challenges. What a treat to attend the A2RU alongside academics in the sciences, humanities, and other disciplines to partner across programs! Accessing the problem solving potential of artists, scientists, writers, engineers, and mathematicians simultaneously opened new avenues for productivity, perspectives on global issues around food and sustainability and reawakened the optimism of many A2RU attendees (including myself) about the possibilities afforded by artists connected to broader research communities. I’m grateful for the inspiration and activation from this fruitful convening, and I look forward to staying involved in this exciting organization as my career progresses. Thank you!
Trevor Bashaw, University of Kansas
I study creative writing. My time at the A2RU Conference in Harrisonburg was great. I got to make connections with artists and scholars who utilize interdisciplinary research practices to truly do what they feel their calling is in life–whether that be making art with gardening, or making movies about food. Hearing their perspectives was inspiring and re-motivated me to get back into my own work, to refine my practice and to be more mindful in everyday life.
One takeaway I got from the conference was that you don’t have to sacrifice fun and enjoyment to create something that is meaningful, something that you can be proud of, something that contributes important things to the world. My group chose to use our diverse skill sets to write a children’s book (with accompanying illustrations and animations with plans for app development). While it sounds like a lot of work, the time we spent together was mostly full of laughter, connection, conversation, and mutual support. We truly deconstructed the work/play dichotomy (and maybe process/content, too) in that the most rewarding part of the experience for me was merely meeting and connecting with cool individuals!
I’ve also taken a greater appreciation of food with me away from the conference. I won’t quickly forget the first meal we shared together, where Kate (the visiting artist) gave us instructions that allowed us to embrace the present moment with all of our senses and truly experience the food. Nor will I forget getting to help out on the permaculture farm–I hope those skills come in handy if eco- and social systems start really collapsing!
Josie Briley, University of Nebraska
I’m a Graphic Design student at the University of Nebraska and I attended the 2019 A2RU Emerging Creatives Student Summit in Harrisonburg, VI. I traveled with three other classmates, all design students, and a professor from our program. None of us really knew what to expect from the conference, and because it wasn’t graphic design focused, we were all a little confused as to what we would be doing.
By the end of the weekend, we all agreed that it was an awesome experience. The conference was very vague in the beginning, we chose groups and were instructed to solve a problem involving food and place. At first, none of us knew what that meant. We realized the coordinators were giving us the opportunity to have a truly interdisciplinary experience.
My group had three visual artists, a music composition major, a data analytics major, and a literary PhD student. I feel we got really lucky. We all got along really well, and in the end, we all contributed parts of our own disciplines to the conference. It was amazing to see how students from all over the continent who had never met could come together and find solutions to major problems in a matter of day.
I’m so happy I had this opportunity and I hope I’ll be able to participate in A2RU events in the future.
Geneva Casebolt, University of Arizona
For four days, I left Tucson, AZ to attend the a2ru 2019 Emerging Creatives Summit at James Madison University where I got to collaborate with other artists from various disciplines. The conference put us into groups of five and gave us a task to create a project surrounding the theme: food and place. As someone who is a passionate vegan and theatre-maker, this task got me excited. I was also a little nervous but mostly excited to learn and meet new people.
Over the course of the four days, I got to learn about food injustices and what ways I could help the community. It was wonderful to hear an artistic and activist perspective as I am someone who is passionate in both subjects. Detriot artist Kate Daughdrill’s participation in the conference took me by surprise. Her work in creating a community garden and art helped me cultivate the idea of unity. That we can break down invisible barriers between people. I didn’t think that gardening would create such a difference in a culture and, in turn, the world. Even more so, hearing activist Michael Snell-Feikema’s opinions on the food industry as well as Michelle Hesse (Ph.D., R.D.)’s expertise reminded me of how important it is to take a stance and have awareness about food scarcity. Otherwise, no one would know about it.
Learning more about these issues helped with the project that my group and I had. It was great to hear their perspective regarding the injustices of the food system and the ways in which we could bring the community together. We discussed what we wrote in our applications to get the idea of what we could do. For me, it was because of my belief that your well-being (mentally, physically, and emotionally) heavily dictates an artist’s creativity. Nutrition is my minor and it’s something that has affected me in such a positive way. The one thing I treasured was hearing and seeing the diversity. Our country is an uncertain area and it’s nice to see that we look past someone’s appearance and appreciate them for now. We all found that we wanted to share a communal experience.
My group decided that we wanted to cultivate the idea of unity without judgment and experience. That we can still feel connected and celebrate our differences even though we can’t see each other. My group and I set up an installation where each person closed their eyes and chose a scent to smell. Each scent was some kind of natural scent (cinnamon, popcorn, lemon, oyster mushroom, etc.). After the person chose their scent they wrote down an experience or feeling they had on a board set up. It was amazing to see the participation that was involved. I really didn’t think there would be that much. I loved hearing what everyone had to say about their experiences as they had only four senses rather than five.
Overall, this conference got me thinking about the kind of work I wanted to make. It’s something I think about a lot because I see so many things being made that don’t address real issues. I think about well-known people like George Clooney. I would have never known about the situation in Darfur if he didn’t make his documentary about it. I also think about one of my artistic inspirations, Thirty Seconds to Mars. I would have never known about serious world issues if it wasn’t for their music videos and short films. Therefore I felt that it was important to make work on issues that mattered to me.
Basically what I am saying is this: we all have the power to say something whatever skills we have. This conference taught me to never underestimate my artistic power or power as an individual. I truly hope to attend more conferences like this in the future.
Yichen Chen, University of Michigan
I am currently a second-year graduate student attending the University of Michigan. I always consider what I study as interdisciplinary. I am majoring in urban planning; however, I was recommended by my professor from a graphic design class at the School of Information. Besides, I studied communication and geography when I was an undergrad. I was very curious about this Summit since it encourages people with an interdisciplinary background to work together. This is also the main reason why I decided to attend. Like many other attendants, I had no idea how the Summit was going to be. Despite this, I was still very excited to go on the journey of Food & Place at JMU in Virginia.
The first day went on well. During the ice breaker, I got to communicate with a lot of people from very different backgrounds on the topics of Food + Culture, Food + Environment and Food + Connection. It was also very inspiring to hear the presentation of Kate Daughdrill – an urban farmer based in Detroit. She builds urban farms on the vacant, abandoned land of Detroit and holds events open to the neighborhood to enjoy food grown by themselves. What she does for the City of Detroit is just amazing. Moreover, she inspired our group to work on a project focusing on the theme of Food + Connection.
After lengthy discussions and brainstorming sessions, our group decided to create an interactive installation called Stop and Smell the Roses for the final presentation. We went and collected different ingredients with very distinctive smells (coffee beans, garlic powder, honey, etc.), and put them into containers. We asked people to close their eyes and smell the ingredients and write down what the smell brings to them. It could be a piece of imagination, an old experience or a simple thought. Our installation became one of the most popular during the final presentation. People waited in lines to smell the ingredients and wrote down their experience. We were glad to see our board turning from plain white to full of colorful sticky notes. According to the notes, there was some common experience addressed. But more to our surprise, even though there were only ten ingredients provided, there are so many different descriptions written. This connects smoothly to what we wanted to express – Food connects us in various ways. Different food means differently to people. But most importantly, we long for commonality but also celebrate differences.
Matt Kleinmann, University of Kansas
It’s been a week since the conclusion of the a2ru Creative Summit on Food and Place, and I’ve had some time to reflect on the strengths of the conference. The Summit was a four-day event (February 7 – 10, 2019) and was hosted by James Madison University. Logistically, getting to the conference was a challenge with delays due to weather, which led to a small group of us joining the conference on its second day. Fortunately, we were there for panels on Food Justice (which included a panel featuring Michelle Hesse, Kate Daughdrill, and Michael Snell-Feikema) and the Creative Process (which included a panel featuring Ian Cheney, Ross Gay, and Stephanie Williams).
The entire Summit was an engaging experience. About half of our time was dedicated to group work on a creative project, while the other half was centered around the panels, a wonderful site visit to a sustainable community known as the Vine and Fig / Blacks Run Forest Farm, incredible performances by Ross Gay, Stephanie Williams, and Ian Cheney, and a delicious, locally sourced, sustainable meal that was put together by two JMU students. All of these experiences left an impression on me, and the most impactful experiences was the time spent with my peers, learning about how they bring creativity to food, and understanding conversations of place through lenses of health equity and food justice. Our team’s proposal was to create a guerilla zine that would inspire individuals that discover it to host potlucks in their community to bring strangers together to enjoy healthy recipes and build community. You can learn more about that proposal, and download a copy of the zine to make it your own, on our Instagram page.
In the space I have available to me here, however, I wanted this reflection to share some of my thoughts on the Food Justice panel, which I believe to be a critical and intersectional issue when we discuss themes such as creativity, research, food, and place. One of the themes that emerged is that the food system is designed to be hidden from the public at large, whether that’s in the third-world working conditions that powerless undocumented immigrants find themselves in, or in the working poor chasm, where food assistance programs fall far short of bridging the gap between our federal poverty levels ($25k a year) and the estimated level required to survive ($61k a year, depending on the location). Like one of the questions from the audience brought up regarding Flint, Michigan, people are stuck, they’re forgotten, and to take on these disempowering food systems is next to impossible. Demoralizing stuff to consider, right?
This is where I think the creative world offers hope, however, to the downtrodden public health researcher, or community mobilizer. One of the more poetic elements was when Kate Daughdrill asked us to consider the ‘humble mushroom network’, and how a simple organism is in fact one of the largest living organisms on the planet thanks to its underground network of life-sustaining tendrils. Likewise, Kate asked, how might we as creatives and researchers in this space leverage our own networks – such as social media – to connect directly with each other and communities to share our expertise? Michael Snell-Feikema took it one step further and suggested we must take on the instinct of community organizers, demanding concrete proposals that benefit the greatest number of people, and then mobilizing those communities to bring about change. Michelle Hesse reminded us that our role as creatives may be best served in building empathy through storytelling and the arts, painting stories through which advocacy efforts can become more powerful.
Taken together, the Creative Summit on Food and Place was very impactful. I’m grateful to the hosts, the speakers, and my fellow peers who attended and brought something to the conversation. My hope is that we can take what we learned and created together back home and find a way to put it into practice in our own communities. A Gandhi quote that the Vine and Fig had in their garden captures this sentiment well: “All our Philosophy is as dry as dust if not immediately translated into some act of living service”.
You can view the photos I took at Vine and Fig here: http://bit.ly/a2ru_mk
Melissa Leaym-Fernandez, Penn State University
Attending the 2019 A2Ru Student Conference at James Madison University was not only illuminating, it is relevant to the challenges that marginalized communities all over the world face. As a former teacher in Flint, Michigan, surviving the Flint Water Crisis and being lead-poisoned, many in this county need to stop believing that all have access to water and food in this country. This is just not true. The artists, be it visual, writers, or film were inspiring—Ross Gay and the story of the urine collection and his daughter—oh my! As a parent, I can relate and I just laughed so hard! It was so edifying—THANK YOU!
Regarding my research in assisting students and women survive and then thrive in poverty-stricken toxic filled environments. I was able to be part of a project design that will collect the food stories, recipes and experiences of 500 women; I want to have a book made as many populations would benefit from a book and the womanhood found in the stories and in the sharing and do not have access to WIFI, which was something the others in my group were not aware of—the exclusionary practice—is what I am working to fracture. I am submitting a grant application to do this project with two women who are doctoral students, with me at Penn State University.
Thank you again for the generous award. I could not have attended this event without your wonderful and deeply appreciated support!
Tyler Loebig, University of Nebraska
Before attending the A2RU conference, I had no idea what to expect. I went into it thinking selfishly about how food plays a role in my life. Whether it be a cheap cheeseburger from the closest fast food drive thru or a perfectly cooked filet mignon from my favorite restaurant in town, I realized that I am, indeed, a foodie. I am constantly looking for new places to eat, new trendy food to try, and expand my ever changing taste palate.
However, what I didn’t think about was how food gets to these places. I didn’t think about the people living in food deserts. I didn’t think about the environmental impact of food waste. The A2RU student summit really opened my eyes, and stomach, to so many things that I would have otherwise never known. This summit does an amazing job of connecting people that simply want to make a difference. As an aspiring designer, I was greatly impacted by testimonials from other students, activists, and artists about food in our communities. I learned from food scientists, environmental engineers, and water ecologists about things that I would have never thought about otherwise. This interdisciplinary experience really inspired me to use my talents to create a change in society.
The change that my group and I wanted to make was within food waste. After dissecting the issue into its intimate details, we realized that we really just wanted to change people on the consumer level. Therefore, we created a zine. This zine contains all of our own expertise, research, and passions to encourage people to think a little differently before their next trip to the grocery store.
A2RU was a life changing experience, and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to attend. It helped me grow as a designer, collaborator, researcher, and overall person. I hope to have the chance to attend again in the future.
Amelia Muzzo, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
I came from Chile to participate in the a2ru Food and Place Student Summit driven by my interest in the subject of this year and my curiosity in the vision of food that this Summit raised. I study civil engineering and my specialization is in food engineering, so on the days of the Summit I learned about food from a different perspective and I also contributed with my own knowledge on food.
During the Summit activities, I discovered and was able to learn about a new vision of Food and Art I had never even thought about before. All of these in the panels, where we had very interesting expositors who talked about their own experiences where they had created art through food or express their own concerns through food, in the interdisciplinary team work, where we develop a project during the four days we had, in the field experience, where we went to a community farm and in the conversations that I was able to have with the students during different moments in the Summit. The experience from which I learned the most was working with my team, where we had students from very different careers, and in my case, country too, which made it very difficult, but also a very enriching experience thanks to the ideas and different visions that each one contributed.
I’m very grateful to have participated in this Summit that helped me expand my vision on the subject of Food and Place and interact and meet people from many different disciplines and places, from whom I learned incredible things. I hope to continue participating in these great experiences.’
Ozlem Ayss Ozgur, University of Arizona
At the recent A2RU Emerging Creatives conference in James Madison University in Harrisonburg/ Virginia, I was able to be a part of the interdisciplinary design process at work. This was my first A2RU Summit experience and I loved it! I met many like-minded students who are passionate about social justice, social sciences and art making. Each morning of the Summit started with a panel of critical artists and educators whose research-based creative works generate new understanding and engagement with food-ways. Meeting with the presenting artists and listening to their ideas in the show and tell and one on one meetings were very inspiring moments for me because I learned different possibilities of combining art and social justice issues together regarding sustainability, food justice, food insecurity, and problems in the food labor industry.
In order to have a successful interdisciplinary collaboration one needs to be patient, and needs to develop good listening and communication skills. This was the first thing we learned in the first two days of the Summit. Our group had members who were from different walks of life, different majors, different ages, and different backgrounds. The difficulty was to figure out how to narrow down all the flowing ideas and focus on one project that is doable in a few days. However, as the weekend went on, we kept brainstorming and learned to bring together all of our voices and make all of our ideas work together: The answer was a multimedia project. This experience gave me a glimpse of the possible challenges of interdisciplinary collaborative research projects and how to overcome such challenges with a positive attitude.
We all connected around the concept of Culture and Food. The main question we were interested in was the following: What is the place making properties of food, how does food carve a social space for all kinds of displaced people? We created a short digital story about an Indonesian Chef who owns the Boboko Café in Harrisonburg, which is the only Indonesian restaurant in Virginia. We created a prototype of a multimedia project that included possibly a book (with five chapters addressing different aspects of food and culture), a website that might be composed of a collection of food stories and a possible documentary film that focuses on what it means to connect to a new place via food. We also asked students and faculty to give us their emails so that we can contact them to ask three questions about food to collect their food stories. We are excited about the future prospects of this project. A2RU Emerging Creatives Summit was a very valuable experience for me as I am about to embark on an interdisciplinary dissertation research project in Spring 2020 after completing my comprehensive exams in Fall 2019.
Jakub Rojek, University of Arizona
My experience at the A2RU conference at James Madison University was truly unforgettable and enriching on many levels. The conference was a perfect place for creative artists looking for a relaxed, yet fast-paced environment to share their ideas with others. Four days was filled with exchanging creative ideas and brainstorming, which is what I like to do especially when sitting at the table with people representing many different disciplines. I am naturally curious about the next move, or direction I could go in and it does not have to be something along the lines I have been doing in my own research. This was it. You could just show up and immerse yourself in a multi-faceted, collaborative work with people you have never met before. Yet, do it by looking at the creative process through the lens of your own work and aesthetic. In my case, the stimulus for my creativity came from being really attuned to ideas of others around me and developing them in the most cohesive and organic manner. It was a truly inspiring and enlightening weekend and I would love to be part of something like that again. You cannot be bored, it is too much fun…well, maybe the right amount, and quality! Finally, the possibilities and potential for future collaborations with new artists are unlimited and just waiting to be explored.
Jake Stone, University of Arkansas
I had an exciting experience at the a2ru conference. I got to network and meet a lot of new people; the conversations were interesting and engaging because everyone had different backgrounds and interests. It was a great way to spark my creativity and gain new perspectives of the world.
The speakers were all engaging and unique in their own aspects. We heard from documentary filmmakers, artists, urban farmers, writers, poets, and multimedia artists that all had a fascinating perspective on the theme food + place.
We were assigned a project to work with on a team, given there were limited instructions it allowed us to create whatever our team was passionate about and deemed important for people to experience and learn about. It was fun working on this with people I’ve never met, but everyone was very fun and respective of each other and our ideas. It was a place of constructive feedback and confidence instilled through each teams’ creative efforts towards completing an exciting project.
Dianna Taylor, University of Arizona
The A2RU summit in Harrisonburg, Va was one of the most exciting and enlightening experiences I had had the pleasure to participate in. The speakers, field-trips and activities planned for us were so inspiring. Kate Daughdrill, Dr. Michelle Hesse and Michael Snell showed us that our areas of study matter and that we can help and inspire our community. I got to create a project with some of the most motivated and talented people from all over the country. Our group created a documentary of a local Indonesian restaurant named Boboko where we interviewed the owner and had him tell us his story. We also set up a project to create a cookbook which collects recipes and stories from immigrants and refugees that come to our country along with sharing our own stories to show reciprocity. Our inspiration was to allow people to tell their story through food. It also bought together our Tucson group of students and we plan to create projects together in the future. Going to the A2RU summit was one of the best college experiences I have ever had. Thank you A2RU!
Lusi Wang, University of Michigan
For me, a2ru was an eye-opening experience. Unlike any other conferences I’ve been to, a2ru brings creatives and researchers from various disciplines around the topic of food + place.
I came to a2ru with some backgrounds already in food + place from my previous experiences in inner-city community development, food access mapping, and human-centered urban design. However, a2ru still surprised me, with the breadth of knowledge the panelist has, as well as its great integration of the theoretical and practical. Visiting a community of organic urban farming, eating a low-waste meal, watching a food movie, and discussing current food manufacturing processes go hand in hand.
During a2ru, I got to work with an architect, a sculptor, and two medical illustrators. Together, we created a community potluck initiative that aims to reveal the joy of healthy eating through sharing meals. After a2ru, the architect plans to integrate the potluck initiative to the next step of his Ph.D. research. Through this initiative, we hope more community members can see healthy eating, not as a requirement but a fun experience.
Overall, I felt deeply inspired by the passion and knowledge of my fellow conference attendees at a2ru.
Sarah Wittmeyer, University of Colorado Denver
I was honestly not quite sure what to expect from the a2ru Creative Summit Conference. As a musician finishing my Bachelor’s degree in Music Business, I knew that applying my creativity to the theme of Food & Place would challenge my everyday way of thinking.
The teammates that I met the first day of the conference gradually became friends that I will always cherish. I am still amazed by the genuine cooperation and citizenship that every member of our team displayed. Not a moment went by without someone asking “What can I do to help?” which brought a huge sense of accomplishment when our final product was complete. During the conference, we developed an informed Zine (mini magazine) that educates college students and young adults on the benefits of gardening indoors. This was incredibly easy to develop in our group only because of our diverse backgrounds. While one teammate excelled in graphic design, another was providing insight on plant growth. When teammates were illustrating, another was planning on how to distribute and present our work. It was truly inspiring and refreshing to experience such a selfless setting of productivity. Now, we plan on developing eleven more educational Zines over the next three years in a Zine issue called “Food, Insight, Action!” Everyone on our team has so much potential and an abundance of information on various topics, so this issue will allow us to truly take the connections made at the a2ru conference to the next level.
I believe that the open structure of the a2ru conference enabled all of our raw, messy brainstorm ideas to turn into a solid reality that involved every member of the team. I enjoyed experiencing the panels, field trip, and performances, but most of all, I appreciated the connection that was made with artists, scientists, farmers, developers, designers, mathematicians, directors, the list goes on!