Attending the world’s foremost sustainability brand conference is like being sucked into a massive green hurricane. (Just scroll around the 360VRtoon recap above at high speed to get the feeling) Going there as a cartoonist-at-large, armed with pens, iPad and a nose for quirky contrasts, and it’s an environment ripe for observation.

From the session on “Inspiring Consumer Desire and Demand for a Circular Economy’ featuring big brains from Target, Eileen Fisher, Cisco and BBMG.

That was my assignment as I attended SB19 in Detroit. I wanted to capture as much of the latest trends and learning as I could, while observing the sustainability species in its natural environment. The rising-from-the-semi-post-apocalyptic-hipster backdrop of Detroit was a bonus.

The day starts with a plenary session, on the big main stage. The cartoon above is an example of one morning’s highlights. The quotable quotes come fast and furious, along with statistics, charts and ROI numbers. Each speaker is inspiring and engaging, and no matter how fast I draw I can’t possibly capture it all

The Research Roundtable – What constitutes The Good Life in the Eyes of Consumers.

Between sessions, networking breaks fill the cavernous halls of Detroit’s Cobo Center. Conversations merge and melt with themes of Plastic Footprint, Supply Chain Transparency and where everybody is meeting for a beer later.

Issues swirl and sometimes connect. Remember to bring your own coffee cup and water bottle or be a pariah

Between breakout sessions I retreat to my table in the Innovation Expo. Here I observe fascinating connections between businesses… tree planters, recycled clothing manufacturers, NGO’s, inventors. I wish I had a billion dollars to invest.

At almost any time, one can be randomly attacked by a tree.

I have another beer at the Innovation Expo happy hour. My sketchbook fills with notes, drawings and doodles, like a dream half-scribed in the middle of a moonless night. I hope I can make sense of it all in the morning.

The stats on Millennials and families adopting more sustainable practices is encouraging.

After four days of amazing presentations, networking and happy hours, I am freshly recharged to go zero-waste, live plastic-free, reduce my planetary footprint and use my evil drawing powers for good.

Over the following week I condense as much as I can into a 360VRtoon illustration to share with the world. (The one at the top of this post, which ended up featured on the Kuula 360 worldwide community home page) I still feel like I have not been able to come close to capturing all of the energy, optimism, brilliance and opportunity that this community is bringing to the biggest challenge of our time.

But that’s just the way it feels to work in sustainability. As Shane Wolf from Seed Phytonutrients so aptly put it: “I am often pleased, but never satisfied.”

Time to rest and recover for next year’s Sustainable Brands conference in Long Beach California.

Righteous, Dude.

Making sustainability hip starts with storytelling.
The people you meet at Sustainable Brands – like Stephanie Devine, inventor of the compostable bra. You can’t make this stuff up.
From faith to football… sustainability goes everywhere
The cartoonists’ table. He’s probably off finding a beer somewhere….

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