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Chicago Pulse: Why The Windy City Was The Perfect Setting For SobCon08

What is it about Chicago that made it the perfect setting for SobCon08?  A gathering of 100+ web publishers, business owners, entrepreneurs, teachers, learners, writers and bloggers.

Now I’m not talking hot air here when I refer to the Windy City (though put us all together in a small boat and we sure did make an awful lot of noise…)  I’m talking about the Chicago environment, atmosphere, and landscape which for me created the perfect context and conditions for an event which truly rocked.

From a flick through of my Chicago photo album you might say it was because:

135 South LaSalle

You have to look up to see the whole picture

Curves and Lines

The city tempts you to reflect, and see things from a new perspective

View From The Summit Down Michigan Avenue

We had a clear view ahead from the windows on the 10th floor of the Executive Summit conference centre

Navy Pier Fun Park

It’s a city where people like to play, create and have fun

Carbide & Carbon Building

The skyline and skyscrapers are a celebration of audacity

Art Deco Elevator Cars

Dig a little deeper and you’ll find hidden gems, unique, with great attention to detail and design

Downtown Chicago

Downtown Chicago is dominated by bridges: crossing points, opportunities for growth and expansion

Buildings Intersecting I

The buildings play off each other: reflecting, creating, inspiring

Sarah Bernhardt said Chicago was the pulse of America.

Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect and planner is quoted as saying:

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will themselves not be realized.

It’s a quote that captures the mood of Chicago for me, and is part of what made it the perfect backdrop for this event.

What do you think? If you know Chicago can you see other ways the city works for the spirit and culture of blogging entrepreneurs?  If you were at SobCon08 what elements of the city landscape or environment added to your experience?

This is my first follow up post to SobCon 08.  I’ve got other ideas, messages and learning points buzzing through my mind that I’ll share with you over the next week or so.

I’m going to keep the main focus on writing (and powerful writing at that - some great lines and ideas to add to the mix from the weekend) and may well post a separate page of ideas for those of you who are particularly interested in blogging and business.

I wanted to start with this one though: because I loved taking the pictures, because it was my first trip to the US and a big (wonderful) deal for me, because a number of people have said they’d like to see photos and learning points… and mainly because I was trying to find a way to thank Liz Strauss.

It’s hard to find words to say thanks for such a monumental contribution but (if you’ll excuse the pun) I hope this celebration of Chicago will go some small way because I know you love this city Liz, and rightly so.  Besides I thought you might be able to use some of this to drum up more sponsorship for next year :-)



  1. Michelle Vandepas says:

    Awesome! I didn’t get to see ANY of Chicago. :( I didn’t even make it to the BEAN or anything. I’ll have to come back next year. So great, so great to meet you!

  2. amypalko says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed taking your photos, Joanna. You’ve done a fabulous job at capturing this wonderful city, and I just love the connections you’ve drawn between the city itself and the amazing event that SOBCon08 so clearly was. I particularly like the ‘celebration of audacity’ ;-)

  3. Karen Putz / DeafMom says:

    I’ve seen the Windy City so many times, but looking at your pictures- wow!

  4. Terry Starbucker says:

    Ah yes, Chicago. The city with big shoulders. That toddlin’ town. The Windy City. And the famous home of SOBCon!

    I thought I couldn’t love this city any more than I did. I was wrong. How can you not love a city that now holds not only the sights you so wonderfully captured, but some of the fondest memories of my life?

    Thanks for being a big part of those memories. Until the next time, all the best!


  5. Karen Swim
    Twitter: karenswim

    Wow, I have been to Chicago several times but never saw it in this way! Joanna your analogies are powerful and inspiring. I cannot wait to read and see more. I had not idea you were also such a talented photographer! Well done!

  6. Michael Martine | Remarkablogger
    Twitter: remarkablogger

    Joanna I love the analogies you created in this post! Very true! It was a great pleasure to meet you. SOBCon will hold a special place in our hearts.

  7. Brad Shorr says:

    You all might enjoy this poem about Chicago, if you’re not familiar with it.

  8. Chris Cree says:

    Joanna, Gorgeous and I really enjoyed getting to meet you in person finally. I’m so glad you made the trek across the pond to see us.

  9. Robyn says:

    Joanna, I wasn’t able to be at SOBCon, but I somehow wanted to “live” it through your eyes. Your pictures show me Chicago as I might not think about it otherwise.

    I’m looking forward to hearing about the powerful ideas that are buzzing around in your mind right now.

  10. Rick Mahn says:

    Joanna, I’d seen some of these pics on Flickr earlier, and your observations of Chicago to go along with them tie so nicely into what SOBCon08 was.

    Also, you’re right on finding creative ways to thank Liz - something I can’t seem to stop doing.


  11. Damien says:

    Beautiful pictures. It sounds like you had an amazing time. I’m sure the people you talked with appreciated your accent! Of course the Chicago folk have one of their own.

  12. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Michele, I think it was great that you made it Chicago at all - and didn’t miss the boat :-) I loved meeting you too. Wasn’t expecting to make so many wonderful friends. Just goes to show where conversation about TOTP can take you huh?


  13. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Amy, thank you. The way you blend photos and text has been inspiring me.

    I don’t think my photos are that great, but other people are enjoying them (sound familiar?) and my early posting of them on flickr got me into setting up a group for sobcon and encouraging others to do the same. I’m going to write about that whole experience some time (but I’ve a backlog!)

    I’m glad you enjoyed the celebration of audacity. Remembering it’s your word for this year :-)

    I’ll tell you about that particular building some time when I see you


  14. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Karen, it’s interesting isn’t it that other people can help us see the familiar in a different perspective. I guess that’s one of the reasons we read and write blogs :-)

    I am so happy to have met you this weekend. You have one of the most beautiful smiles of anyone I’ve ever met and I can see it in my head now as I think of you.


  15. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Terry, likewise. The people and the place are now woven together into a set of fabulous inspiring emotions and memories.

    Getting to know you was a true highlight of my time in Chicago. Thank you.


  16. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Karen (Swim) I’m not - or at least I don’t think I am. See my reply to Amy!

    I do like drawing analogies though, and once or two occurred to me it was fun looking through the photo set and looking for more. Made me think differently about blogging too.


  17. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Michael, likewise and thank you. I haven’t progressed to video yet unlike some remarkabloggers but I do love the mix of photos and text. Helps me feel creative.

    Holding on to your business card tight in case I’m the lucky winner…


  18. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Brad, thank you. That poem is perfect. Reminds me of the spirit of Glasgow in many ways. Maybe that’s why I liked Chicago so much.


  19. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Chris, likewise. After conversations in Liz’s comment box and on twitter it was cool to follow up in person. And your wife really is Gorgeous (she told me how she found out about that - priceless!)

    Keep in touch


  20. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Robyn, you might not have been there but your spirit was, and your name came up many times in conversation.

    My mind is buzzing with things to tell and share - I’m looking forward to sharing it with you


  21. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Rick, I’m glad you enjoyed the pics. I know Liz loves Chicago so I thought she might appreciate this, but I also know she loves the simplicity of a heart felt “thanks”. She’s told me many times not to think that’s inadequate - it’s often the most perfect thing to say.


  22. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Damien, there were so many different accents and languages playing around in Chicago, but I guess that’s the case with most cities in the US. Yes, people did love my accent esp the men. Shame I didn’t have longer there to capitalise on it!


  23. Fotobuch says:

    i am not so lucky like you :( but willing to visit soon. all the pictures you taken attract me and now i am desperate to visit this city.

  24. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    I hope you manage to get there soon. I found it a very vibrant city which just demanded to be photographed!


  25. @Stephen | Productivity in Context says:

    I will echo Terry’s sentiments. I lived there for 3 years of college, and stopped seeing it like you just did. I will say that I got a glimpse of it while I was showing some newcomers around. It’s like having your eyes opened after a long sleep.

    Thanks for this beautiful post.

  26. @Stephen | Productivity in Context says:

    BTW, I am subscribed and you are on Thursdays in my feed reader.

  27. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson


    I’m glad you enjoyed it. I think we all become blind to places we live after a while. I noticed how enthusiastic I was when I was talking about Edinburgh to people over the w/e but its appeal has faded with me as a citizen.


    PS Do you mean you have folders to read different feeds on different days? That sounds like a great idea

  28. Dawud Miracle says:

    Chicago’s a lovely city. Having spent a lot of time there, I’m always thrilled to go back. And the restaurants are amazing. Two years of SOBCon, two years of finding great eats. You’ll have to come along for dinner next year.

  29. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Hmm, that sounds great. It would give us a chance to have a proper confab too…

    Do we have to wait a whole year?!


    PS I’m saving already