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Bravo to PINC founder Nelleke van Lindonk and the organizers of PINC.Sarasota for their successful inaugural event in Sarasota—and the first PINC outside the Netherlands—last Thursday. Start-up events are often bumpy affairs, but if there were any hiccups at PINC.Sarasota, they weren’t noticeable to the 200-plus attendees, who packed FST’s Gompertz Theatre to hear 15 speakers from seven different countries.

PINC stands for people, ideas, nature and creativity, so the theme of the day was anything goes as long as it’s innovative and inspirational. The topics ranged from marine biology to an appreciation of corduroy (with a motivational sword swallower thrown in at the last minute when a speaker couldn’t show). The speakers were polished and entertaining and most prepared excellent video and photography. I didn’t see anyone nodding off to sleep or checking email the entire day.

The audience learned about—and saw—filament-like creatures who live in utter darkness in the deep sea and octopuses that can instantaneously camouflage themselves to look like sea anemone. We heard from two speakers who traversed Antarctica; a man who has established ingenious systems for farming in cities; a journalist who immersed himself in observing the decomposition of dead bodies (believe it or not, everyone looked at the images); a wealthy man from India who gave up all his privileges to work in remote villages around the world to launch solar systems; the surgeon who conducted the first hand and face transplants; a gay African-American journalist who loves country music; and a graphic designer whose show-stopping work in glass, plastic and metal came from her curiosity about letting materials find their own form.

Like a marathon film festival, PINC, with its almost nonstop one amazing speaker after another, left me feeling I couldn’t hold onto enough of the details. But the miraculous existence of life on this delicate wondrous planet and the need to protect it emerged as an undeniable, urgent theme. The other takeaway was the existence of passionate people from all over the world and from every background who took the risks to create and explore. You couldn’t walk away from PINC without feeling that life and people are utterly fascinating (and, for me, that I was leading a far too boring life).

The price for the PINC conference was $425, which included breakfast, lunch and dinner by the crew at The Francis, who simply outdid themselves in preparing and serving excellent, creatively presented food on time (especially in FST’s small lobby where breakfast and lunch were served). And every attendee walked away from dinner with one of the most creative goodie bags I’ve ever seen—a palm-sized wheel of Norwegian cheese and a beautiful cheese knife. If you didn’t make this conference, you’re in luck. The organizers are already talking about PINC.Sarasota 2015.–Susan Burns

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