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#SoCapOtt: Ottawa’s first (annual!) Social Capital conference


I spent one of my only free days of the week at an all-day conference, paid for out of my own pocket. Insanity? My Hubby might agree. But I, for one, was certainly not going to miss Ottawa’s first social media conference! Organized by a smart group of folks who I all consider to be my friends due to our connections on Twitter and via blogging, I was also there to support their efforts and help keep the attendance numbers high. Well, I needn’t have worried. The conference, which had an attendance cap of 150, was completely sold out. And by lunchtime, the participants were already talking of “next year.”

No doubt, excellent recaps of this event will be created (check out By the Brooks for a recap/review post, Nolie’s Place for top tips learned at the event, and Keep Your Head Up‘s liveblogging for a detailed experience), so I feel freed-up to simply share some of my own personal best moments of the conference.

IRL peeps

For social media nerds like me, “IRL” means “In Real Life.” And the IRL experience was the most fulfilling part of the day for me. (It’s not always this way … sometimes I like the virtual person much better than the IRL person!)  Yesterday, I had a chance to meet some online folks that I’ve been following for ages. This included Joe Boughner, Kathy Buckworth, Glen Gower, and Nick Charney.

But Social Capital also gave me the pleasure of meeting some brand new faces. Here are a few that immediately come to mind:

Sarah Wilson (aka Miss Ability)

I ended up at the same table for lunch with a woman named Sarah. Petite and soft-spoken, she had a quiet confidence that intrigued me. So, we got to talking and I had the opportunity to hear about her newly launched business called Miss Ability.

Sure, people are launching their own businesses every day, but my experience is that so many people don’t launch their businesses well. They print up cards at Staples or in their own home office, start handing them around and wonder why no one is taking an interest.

Sarah, on the other hand, is the kind of new business owner that I really respect. She has been doing all the prep work to ensure her company is well-branded and professional from the start. Here’s her business card:

Sarah had a good “elevator pitch,” that immediately helped me understand her business concept. And if you check out the Miss Ability website, you can see that the business has a clear mission statement:

To give people a platform, whether disabled or not, to communicate.  Also, to allow the disabled community the ability to have a lifestyle they feel they deserve. Promoting affordability and reducing time constraints I’m providing options that are affordable and attainable at any income level or class; whether you are upper, middle or lower.

So, yeah, she was really cool. That made my $75 entry to the conference worthwhile already. Then I met:

Jordan from Project Priceless

I was immediately drawn to Jordan because I wanted to check out her shoes. Yes, I love shoes and she was rockin’ some mighty cute ones! But her shoes were just the tip of the ice berg — she has a really unique style about her. And her sparkling smile didn’t hurt one bit either.

Her story was fun. Her fiance Brian and she launched a project called “Priceless” — a “free” wedding experiment.

Can they beg, borrow, and get donations all the way to the alter?

Although this project and the blog that keeps it all tied together have attracted a lot of media attention, I had not yet heard about it. Clever and so creative, Jordan and her project reminded me of something my younger (“baby”) sister would do. I had a wonderful time talking weddings, dresses, and the Slice channel with her and a number of other women at the table. Here is a photo of Jordan and Brian, proudly displaying their wedding tattoos, which were traded for services with Sarah Rogers of Living Colour.

Jordan and Brian have their wedding scheduled for this August 22nd and you can bet that I’ll be following along and wishing them well! So, yeah, more Ottawa-cool. Then I met:

Ward Minnis, producer of the play The Cabinet

I walked into one of the sessions late and grabbed the only seat I could see. During the session, the man on the left of me asked a question, and then after the session, he and a group of us were chatting for a bit. As it turns out, he has just produced his own play called The Cabinet, which is a political comedy set in the fictional Archipelago Islands. The play premiered April 1st, 2011 and ran for 12 shows in Ward’s home town of Nassau. Here is a promotional poster for The Cabinet:

As a fellow writer, I shared a chuckle with him about his twitter bio. It reads:

Writing stories and trying to make a living off of it. Yes, I am crazy.

He was a really likeable guy, and very modest about his accomplishment of pulling off the production of his very own play. I’ve since checked out his About Me page and he’s got a lot going on! From plays, to visual art and graphic design, to academics and opinion essay writing — this is one interesting person. I really hope his next play will be set in Ottawa!

So, thank you so much to Social Capital for this event, without which I never would have had the fortune of meeting Sarah, Jordan and Ward! I am really looking forward to this becoming an annual event. (Gee, no pressure, eh?)

Otherwheres and other news on the Internets:

Social Capital is featured in today’s Citizen; Coffee with Julie is included in a Canadian Family magazine’s list of favourite bloggers; and Stella’s camping tips have been used in a “flashback” post on the Kids in the Capital community blog.


  1. Julie what a great post of the day. The organizers did a fabulous job of putting together the conference. I for one will make it a priority to be there again next year. It was so great to see you again. 

  2. Wow! I’m speechless. Thanks so much for this Julie. Definitely great meeting you too! :) 

  3. Love this follow up post, what a great twist to recap what you got out of it. It was so great to see you and chat!

  4. Chantal says:

    I am so sad we didn’t actually get to talk. I had to duck out of that session to deal with work problems (darned work, I should never have checked my e-mail) and never hooked up with you again. Booo.

  5. Thank you for including my post in your recap. It was such a fantastic day and I am glad I attended.

  6. andrea from the fishbowl says:

    This is a great summary Julie. I really like how you focused on individual stories here. (And there were so many from that day!) It was good seeing you and I hope to see you next year too! :)

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