A Look Back at VoxPopCon 2013

Anthony Marco has quite the event on his hands…should he continue to foster it going forward.

Last month I returned to where I grew up — Hamilton, Ontario — to be part of VoxPopCon, an event that could be best described as a storytelling conference. Sure, there were elements of technology and new media thrown into the mix, but at its core every talk was more about the story behind all of that other stuff. Whether it was Joey Coleman offering his tale on how he became one of the most trusted people in Hamilton when it comes to the news to Andrew Currie dishing the goods on the story of The Devil’s Advocates (with a special guest appearance by his former partner-in-advocacy Albert Howell), there was plenty to be told at VoxPopCon…and much of it kept me both informed and entertained over the three days of the event.

As for my talk, it was called The Role of a Lifetime, and in it I dove into my past a bit — my story — and I also got into how I’ve carved out a living doing what I do. It was my most personal talk to date, and I think it was one of my best as a result of that.1

One of the best parts about VoxPopCon was the stuff that happened around the event. This is the case for a lot of events that I’ve been to, but this time the stuff took place around a city that I was born in and left for the west coast back in late 1998. This wasn’t the Hamilton I remembered. Things like a really cool Art Crawl on James Street (where a band played on the roof of local record shop Dr. Disc), a nightspot (Radium) that featured really cool beer (and a bartender that really knew his stuff — including how to make a Boulevardier), and a tourism branch that really seems keen on building up the image of the city. I left Hamilton very impressed — something I didn’t really expect.

I also got to hang out with people that I hadn’t seen since the last PAB I’d attended in 2011, and had a ton of great conversations with those I’d never met before.

And then there were the bonuses.

  • Getting to spend some quality time with my father on a couple of occasions, including grabbing some killer coffee at Homegrown Hamilton. (I’m glad I persuaded him to give something other than Tim Horton’s a try.)
  • Spending time with my 95 year old grandmother and my aunt, something I won’t get to do for much longer.
  • Hanging out with my mother — and having her be there at the tail end of my talk. I’ve never been able to acknowledge her in a forum like that before, and I’m glad I got the chance this time around.

All of these bonuses added to the trip to VoxPopCon — making it even more worthwhile.

VoxPopCon was a great event and I hope that Anthony can assemble a team to keep this thing going. As he said during the inaugural event, VoxPopCon is more of “a process than a product” and I’d like to see the process continue so that it can showcase more stories — and showcase a city that seems much better in my eyes now than when I left it nearly 15 years ago.

1 The talks were all captured on video, so once I’ve got a link to share with you, I will.

Photo credit: John Piercy