The Concourse Exhibition Center at 8th and Brannan Streets faces an uncertain future, since the long, low and funky convention hall is slated for possible destruction this winter in favor of condos and retail space by the politically well connected Archstone Development Company.
Meanwhile, the place is still hosting large, offbeat events, including a four-day conference this past weekend called Wisdom 2.0. According to their website,
"The people at Wisdom 2.0 come from all over the world and from numerous vocations, including coaches; technology staff from Apple, Microsoft, and Twitter; as well as venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. Everyone shares a common interest: to live with greater wisdom, purpose, and meaning, while using technology in ways that create a more open and healthy culture. Speakers come from numerous sectors, including technology, wisdom traditions, neuroscience, game development, and more. Past speakers have included the founders of Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Zynga, and Paypal, along with wisdom teachers from various traditions."Marianne Williamson and Arianna Huffington were only two of the usual suspects among the inspirational speakers this year, which included congresspersons, tech executives, and yoga teachers.
Observing the crowd chomping on quick lunches outside before the next speaker began, they looked to be predominantly female and about 90% white. Having been nursed in California's countless esoteric spiritual traditions since birth, I harbor a fair amount of skepticism while believing in half of it at the same time. One bit of truth I do hold self-evident for myself, however, is that the chance of finding Wisdom 1.0 or 2.0 while wearing a nametag at an indoor conference on a beautiful day is close to nil. Swimming naked in the ocean, walking in a redwood forest, talking with a sympathetic friend, playing a game at a municipal golf course, or concentrating on a book strikes me as a much better bet for illumination. If we're going to throw the digital world into that equation, Wisdom 2.0 will just as likely come from the Poem of the Week at Patrick Vaz's site, where he helpfully explains each week's poem for those like myself who find most poetry completely unfathomable.