Talk about lightning round! I am here at the TAG Conference, getting on the bus shortly to go to the wrap-up event. What better way to finish the conference than to provide some hot takes.
First, we are talking about the Technology Association of Grantmakers. This, like many similar social events, is the 2022 IRL version of the 2020 conference. It has been an outstanding experience.
Hot Take #1: We Like Each Other. We Really, Really Like Each Other
Apologies to Sally Field.
There has been a buzz and energy at this conference that has sustained itself through the entire conference. Usually, I see a buzz on the first day as people get back together after some time. As the conference goes on, we all start to feel like it is OK if we seen one another only once in a while.
As a colleague said to me today, “We discovered that we really like each other!” I could not agree more with that sentiment. Even an introvert like me wants to connect with other people. So, it was nice when I ran into a group of conference attendees, and they invited me to join them for dinner. (They did threaten to put me at the kids’ table, a la Thanksgiving.)
The Spaniards Called It Secularization. Is That the Same as Sustainability?
The conference is being held in San Antonio, Texas. It turns out that there is a UNESCO World Heritage site here, based on the five missions here. Yes, the Alamo was one of those missions, but not the only one.
Our tour guide related how the Spaniards never intended to run the missions forever. The Spaniards planned to take 75 years or so to assimilate (the polite word) the local Native Americans. After that, the Spaniards judged the local people to be “secularized.” The local people would no longer live and work within the confines of the mission.
My hot take is that I connected this process to the idea of sustainability. Especially, I saw parallels with the idea that we want to intervene to improve a situation, but the local people must adopt the intervention. As Saul Alinski once said, you know your job as a radical is done when the locals kick you out.
We are No Longer Afraid of Digital Transformation
Here is my next hot take. People came to this conference and talked about what they are doing to digitally transform their organizations. We can thank COVID-19 for accelerating this process, no doubt. I enjoyed seeing that folks were defining “digital transformation” as a series of specific projects that would digitally enable the organization’s work. We are beyond the stage of digital transformation as the buzzword that means everything and nothing. (Next up: Web3.)
My Tourism Hot Takes
I did have some time to explore the area around our convention. I learned a few things.
- If you want peak Tex-Mex, do not go looking for it on a Monday. It seemed like the only Tex-Mex restaurants that were open were the ones catering to tourists.
- I found a deli, Schilo’s, that serves up great food. Try their root beer.
- The San Antonio Riverwalk is cute. It is great for creating a gathering space for a meal or a beer. But the river itself? It reminded me of the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland, minus the kitschy headhunters and wildlife. The tourist barges that I saw only sealed the deal on my hot take.
- There is a Texas Selfie Museum in town. Of course.
More Tacos, Please
OK, I will wrap before I go to the party. I loved catching up with so many friends here. I also loved making new friends. We discovered that we are more than just talking heads on a Zoom call.
I am looking forward to doing this again.