Of all the things I worry about going into an event each year, having the government shut down the night before we kick off is not normally on my list. And yet that is what happened earlier this month, so I fully expected to not see many of our attendees from Veterans Affairs and other government agencies on Tuesday morning. One of the speakers who is with U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development had already informed me he couldn’t travel to the Chicago on Monday as planned. Orest Burdiak, who is the Principal Interior Designer with the Department of Veterans Affairs and also serves on our Advisory Board had been keeping me updated that his large group wouldn’t be able to travel as well. For those of you who don’t know, the Symposium and VA have a long history where we will have anywhere from 15-50 staff members from the VA in attendance each year. To not have that group would leave a hole as they are some of our more engaging attendees.
I stood in the Grand Ballroom on Tuesday morning and in walked several “regular” attendees from the VA as well as Orest. I was completely overwhelmed with gratitude. To me, they symbolize the heart of the Symposium – those professionals who despite a government shutdown and an industry in a state of total uncertainty as to what the future holds – they still made their way to Chicago to learn, network and find some of the answers together. The government may have been shut down but we certainly were not!
Over the week that energy continued inside Navy Pier as old friends reconnected and new friendships were forged. Ideas were tossed around in the traditional conference setting but also in discussion forums and birds of a feather tables over lunch. Bringing a burst of fresh air was the over 20 students participating in the Generative Space Charette who had the opportunity to present their projects both in sessions but also with their displays for everyone to explore. Seeing the mix of veteran and new faces at the Symposium Party and Humanscale Networking Mixer was a true sign that the Symposium is poised to continue to be where the meaningful conversations about healthcare happen.
We are already starting plans for next year and lots of you shared your ideas and thoughts with me during the event. But before we totally turn the page on the 2013 event I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the two ways we left something behind in our home city of Chicago. We held our annual raffle which this year benefitted the Hines Fisher House (http://www.hines.va.gov/fisherhouse) and we will be making a donation of more than $12,000. A new endeavor this year, in partnership with the Global Alliance for Arts & Health, we had artist David Jansheski (www.jansheskioriginals.com) make a piece of art on the exhibit floor with attendees help. That finished piece of art is being donated to the La Rabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago. The mission of the Symposium is to create a multi-disciplinary environment that inspires you to evoke change and the advancement of a better delivery of healthcare through the physical space. These two donations are very tangible ways in which we fulfill that mission each year.
Thank you to all who made the trip to Chicago and I look forward to seeing you and many more next year!
Vice President, Symposium Director
Symposium and Expo
PS Have a thought about the Symposium? Please feel free to contact me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Water of Life by David Jansheski donated to La Rabida Children’s Hospital