June 26, 2010

8 Reasons why LOHAS is the best green lifestyle business conference in the US.

LOHAS—a business conference dedicated to doing well and doing good, both—just ended yesterday. The final 15 minutes, with a few New Belgiums in me, I salsaed with Buddhist/ yoga/ social media mistress/ friend Gwen Bell, shook dozens of hands (including the organizer’s, Ted Ning) in thanks, then left the picturesque St. Julien Hotel with a year’s worth of inspiration filling my tired head.

Photo from the last moments of LOHAS Forum 2010 via Joey Shepp, via Gwen Bell’s site:

LOHAS is amazing. It may not perfect, yet—nothing is—it’s still got plastic bottles (which presenter Christopher, associate product of The Cove, reminded us is something worth boycotting in the face of the BP Oil Spill) and greenwashing (my friend Josh of Pangea told me how he asked tough questions of a favorite company in a panel, and received evasive answers)…and, like everywhere in Boulder, there’s AC blasting and windows open (the equivalent of having a refrigerator the size of a hotel with it’s door open) but it is, as Rand of Neighbor told me, a national “favorite.” Why?

1. Ted Ning. I don’t know someone who’s more supportive and hard working, straightforward and cheerful…and seemingly relaxed. Every conference needs a king, and LOHAS has it in Ted.

2. Boulder. It’s a green-minded and business-friendly town—despite the aforementioned AC and windows open habit—and it’s beautiful. Most conferences, you’re stuck in a generic hotel and hardly get out. LOHAS is out—the two courtyards where our receptions happen, where we drink and eat every meal and dance and check out booths—look out directly over our majestic Flatiron mountains. Within two minutes are dozens of great restaurants, hiking in the mountains, the Boulder Creek, and seven other sites worth seeing and things worth doing.

3. LOHAS brings together big companies like Coke, Petco, Starbucks, Ebay, Whitewave…with fun troublemakers like Pangea Organics, W1SD0M, SocialK, Soap Group, CSR Newswire. Most conferences highlight one or the other—but true change will only come from combining the best of corporate, pragmatic, mainstream…with grassroots, idealistic mindsets.

4. LOHAS is hard to pin down. What is it? What’s it about? Well, it’s about spirituality, yoga, green, big business, the cutting edge of social and new media…it’s about conscious consumerism corporate do-gooderism. Given that I have a full-time, 7 day a week job…I went to only three panels—one with Petco, Starbucks and Ebay, one on SEO with Everett Sizemore of Gaiam, and one on the Oil Spill an expert from the EPA, the Cove, and Philippe Cousteau skyping in…but I found myself re-inspired, re-fueled.

5. Half the fun at LOHAS isn’t inside a hotel conference room. There’s the live-streamed yoga, pre-parties, VIP parties, the benefits, afterparties, the countless booths featuring great business, there was a Hamsa Lila show (we sponsored) at the Boulder Theater…LOHAS is an experience, not a location.

6. The People. LOHAS, as I said at a LOHAS preparty we sponsored with Ted, Gaiam, White Wave and Gwen, is the one event of the year when those “working (and playing) to create enlightened society,” as our mission puts it, are magnetized to Boulder from all over the country. There are more quality connections—I got to spend time with colleagues and friends Mallika Chopra, Jurriaan Kamp, Randy Paynter, the folks at Neighbor, Mark Retzloff, many others—in two days at LOHAS than in a year’s worth of twitter or facebook interactions. Social media may have saved elephant, but good old 3D is still king.

Photo by Magda Rod, of Waylon Lewis with Jurriaan Kamp of Ode at SocialK, Soap Group & CSR Wire’s Speakeasy party for elephant at Bitter Bar:

7. The shwag. Most conferences have un-eco shwag. LOHAS’s gift room is full of eco-minded products that are actually useful, along with a reusable Chico bag. This may seem like a minor thing, but the devil (or mindfulness) is best found in the details—like organic, fair-trade coffee, and organic, delicious, elegant meals. LOHAS may not be perfect (eco banana leaf plates, shipped thousands of miles and composted after one use, are elegant and cool but less eco thank good ol’fashioned porcelain that can be dishwashed and reused)…but in any case, LOHAS cares, and improves year after year in reducing its carbon footprint.

8. LOHAS gives “small people,” as BP infamously put it, a chance. The last few years, as I decided to reduce a profitable magazine business into a temporarily unprofitable news site that, in our first year online, Ted has tried his damnedest to support elephant. Few conferences look beyond ROI and reward mindfulness or right action. LOHAS is there for the grassroots—it’s truly about doing well, and doing good—not just one or the other.

Via LOHAS’s site:

Look who is attending this year:

Mazama Capital Management
Me To We Style
Mobium Group
Moss Adams LLP
Mother Jones
Mother Jones Magazine
Mt. Romance USA
MyChelle Dermaceuticals
Native Energy, Inc.
Natl Assoc of Eco-Friendly Salons & Spas
Natural Body Spa
Natural Capitalism Solutions
Natural Home Magazine
Natural Marketing Institute
Naturally Connected – NFC
Naya Waters inc
Neighbor Agency
New Earth Records
New Hope Natural Media
New House
New Resource Bank
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise
Non-Profit Individual
Ode Magazine
Ogden Publications
Organic Bouquet
Organic Spa Magazine
Organic Valley
Pangea Organics
Parent Earth
Partnership Capital Growth
Pevonia International,LLC
PME Enterprises
Presidio Graduate School
Product Architects, Inc./Polar Bottle
Rancho La Puerta
ReDirect Guide
Refresh Agency / VivaPrime
Rhythms of the Globe
RockResorts & Vail Resorts
Rocky Mountain Sust. Living Association
RSF Social Finance
Sage Advice Marketing Consulting
Savory Institute
SC Johnson
SCA Tissue North America
Shelton Group
Shop and Give Back
Sierra Club Green Home
Sinco International Investments
Small Planet Foods
Social Venture Network
Sounding House
Spa Maagazine / Bonnier Corp
SRI in the Rockies
Stage Stores
Sterling Planet
Studio Signorella
Sukle Advertising & Design
Sustainable Business Group
Sustainable World Coalition
Synergy TV
Tara Spa Therapy/Green Spa
TDA Advertising and Design
Teatulia Premium Organic Teas
The Aquaponic Source
The Coca-Cola Company
The Cove / There With Care
The Forest Group
The Fresh Ideas Group
The Glynwood Inst. for Sust. Food & Farming
The Intl. LOHAS Forum of China
The Marshall Plan
The Mess Before Success
The Natural Marketing Institute
The Scotts Company
The SOAP Group
Universal Companies
University of Colorado
Vladimir Jones
VOCO Creative
WhiteWave Foods
Whole Living
William James Foundation
Wiser World Travel LLC
Women’s Initiative for Self Employment
Worldways Marketing Communications
WY Women’s Business Center
Wyoming Small Buis Dev Cntr
Your Organic Life
Zaega, Inc.

1% for the Planet
18 Rabbits
Abacus Wealth Partners
Activeion Cleaning Solutions
AgriSystems International
Alfalfa’s Market
AllergyKids Foundation
Amy McDonald & Associates, LLC
Amy McDonald and Associates
anerca international
Antioch University New England
APSWC | Body Bistro | Earth Source
Asia-Pacific LOHAS
Asia-Pacific LOHAS Pte Ltd
Aurora Organic Dairy
B Lab/B Corporation
Ball Horticultural Company
BaumInvest GmbH & Co. KG / Querdenker
BEF – Bonneville Environmental Foundation
Beijing Oriental LOHAS Cultural communication center
Benchmark Asset Managers, LLC
Berry College
Best Organics, LLC
Better Living, LLC.
Beyond the Bottom Line
BijaB, Inc. and YogaAway, LLC
BolderPath Inc.
Bonneville Environmental Foundation
Bossa Nova: the Superfruit Company
Boulder Convention & Visitors Bureau
Boulder Public Library
BreathResearch Inc.
Brent Green & Assoc/Sustain. Bus. Group
CAM PPO of America, Inc.
Campbell Associates
Carter Communications
CB Richard Ellis
Change for Tomorrow, Inc.
Charter Baking Company
Christie Communications
Conscious Execs
Core Concepts of Colorado
Cosmetic Ressources
Costa Farms
Creating Legacy Network
Dini Partners
dNh Do NO Harm
Dr Alkaitis Organic Skin Food
Earth Source Organics
Effect Partners
Ekoroof, LLC
Enclave Rising
Entheos Partners
Environmental Protection Agency
Expansion Capital Partners
Experience Life Magazine
Faith Popcorn’s Brain Reserve
FARM Creative & Green MBA
Farm Credit Canada
Fashion Institute of Technology
First Affirmative Financial Network
Florida Bank
Free Range Studios
General Mills
Georgetown University
Gina’s Ink
Global Greengrants Fund
GPS Business Group
Green America
Green For All
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.
Green Retirement Plans, Inc.
Green Spa Network
Greenmont Capital Partners
Greenwise Bankcard
Groundwork Research/Communications
Growing Spaces LLC
GW Distribution
Hanson Bridgett LLP
Haute Verte Couture
Healthy Child Healthy World
Homemade harvey
Howard Ronder Brand Consulting
Indigeny Reserve
Investors’ Circle
Iredale Mineral Cosmetics
Isis Partners
Island Outpost
J&A Printing
JD Ford
JL Buchanan
Johnson & Johnson
Lavender & Sage
Linhart PR
Living Green Online Magazine
Many Truths

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