Reflecting On Solstice Unplugged

It has now been a couple weeks since Holly and I invited our friends to celebrate the first day of Summer with us at Gray Whale Cove and hauled a keg of beer down a few hundred steps to make it to the beach. The thoughts and memories are still gloriously swimming around in my head. By all accounts, Solstice Unplugged was a definite success and an event we’ll definitely have to do again somehow.  We thank everyone that came and made it such a fun day.  And we owe special thanks to our sponsors that helped make it happen: Eno Wines, drop.io, and The Society for New Communications Research

Why we did it

In the simplest sense, we were interested in having a good time.  One of our fundamental principles is "If it’s not fun, don’t bother." We are constantly reminding of ourselves of that, even basing decisions upon it.  We’ve made many friends in the web industry and those friends have done some exceptional things to ensure that good times are to be had.  And there’s no doubt that Holly and I have been known to partake in our share of free beer and impromptu happy hours. 

So with a 2008 mantra of "Giving Back", we wanted to throw our cards on the table and put together our kind of party.  Not surprisingly, it involved being at the beach.  What else would you expect from a guy who lives a 1/2 mile from the ocean and a gal who grew up in Hawaii?

But also…

The first day of summer should be treated like a holiday

Seriously, when you were a little kid, the first day of summer meant school was out, there’s a night of fireworks coming up, and you could play kickball every single day for about 3 months.  And as I got older, summer meant getting together with your friends to go on roadtrips and follow my favorite band from one city to the next.  It means wearing little more than a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals. It means the sun shines bright well into the evening, there’s a baseball game every single day, and a movie you want to see is released almost every weekend.

And you shouldn’t spend holidays connected to your computer

You should spend them with your friends and family, engaging in spirited debates and thought-provoking conversations. And when the sun is out until 8 pm, you should definitely be spending more time in said sun. 

Which is another reason Holly and I organized Solstice Unplugged.  We’ve been seeing some bad trends.  And are as guilty as the next person in being involved in trends of being too jacked into the interweb.  As the days got longer and the temperatus climbed during April and May I began to notice more and more people posting to Twitter along the lines of "Wow, its really nice outside. I should get out there." Solstice Unplugged was intended to facilitate that.  We purposely picked a spot where we knew there wouldn’t be any laptops and that cell phone coverage would be spotty at best.  While we wanted to encourage discussion and chatting we wanted to do it without Twitter and text messages.  Our point was, and continues to be: Being connected via technology is pretty cool, but it’s not everything.

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So what’s next for Solstice Unplugged?

I’m fairly certain we’ll be organizing something on the beach for June 21, 2009.  There seems to be some level of interest for a winter solstice celebration this December 21.  That probably won’t be on the beach, but maybe unjacking will be needed as we get caught up in the craziness that seems to come with the holiday season. 

And there has been some brainstorming about a larger movement taking place. Perhaps we should spread the word on this and encourage more people to unplug just for a little bit. With that in mind, I spent a lunch hour one day cranking out The Solstice Unplugged Manifesto.  It’s a fun attempt at setting some guidelines for unplugging a couple days every year.

So far, my favorite guideline is #8 – "You can use power to make food.  And to play music.  That’s pretty much it"


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